The FBI and federal prosecutors are reportedly investigating the St. Louis Cardinals for hacking into the computers of the Houston Astros and accessing closely guarded information about player personnel.
Compromised information includes internal discussions about trades, proprietary statistics and scouting reports, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The Times cited law enforcement officials as saying the hack was carried out by front-office employees from the Cardinals who bore a grudge against Jeff Luhnow, the current Astros general manager and a former executive with the St Louis team. If confirmed, the case would be the first corporate espionage hacking case involving a professional sports team.
“Major League Baseball has been aware of and has fully cooperated with the federal investigation into the illegal breach of the Astros' baseball operations database," MLB said in a statement. "Once the investigative process has been completed by federal law enforcement officials, we will evaluate the next steps and will make decisions promptly."
Meanwhile, the Houston office of the FBI said it could not confirm or deny any specific investigation, but would only say "The FBI aggressively investigates all potential threats to public and private sector systems."
The Cardinals, who own a league-best 42-21 record this season, have won the World Series 11 times, second only to the New York Yankees. They have reached the World Series most recently in 2013 when they lost to the Boston Red Sox and won the 2006 and 2011 World Series.
"The St. Louis Cardinals are aware of the investigation into the security breach of the Houston Astros' database," the Cardinals said in a statement. "The team has fully cooperated with the investigation and will continue to do so."
"Given that this is an ongoing federal investigation, it is not appropriate for us to comment further," the team added.
There was no word on which Cardinals employees were the focus of the investigation or whether the team's highest-ranking officials were aware of the hacking or authorized it.
Al Jazeera and wire services