Report: David Fletcher, former Shohei Ohtani teammate, placed bets with same bookie as Ippei Mizuhara

The former Angels infielder reportedly did not bet on baseball

The illegal gambling operation at the center of the Shohei Ohtani-Ippei Mizuhara scandal reportedly involves one of Ohtani's teammates, too.

David Fletcher, who played with Ohtani on the Los Angeles Angels and is currently suiting up for the Atlanta Braves' Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett, placed bets with bookmaker Mathew Bowyer, according to ESPN.

Fletcher's close friend, former Kansas City Royals minor leaguer Colby Schultz, was also reportedly involved. Schultz is alleged to have placed to bets on baseball, including Angels games in which Fletcher played, and was identified as "Bookmaker 3" in the criminal complaint against Mizuhara, Ohtani's former interpeter.

Fletcher reportedly placed bets on several sports, but not baseball. Placing bets with illegal bookmakers is forbidden by MLB, even if not on baseball, with punishments at the discretion of the commissioner.

ESPN reports that MLB is expected to begin investigating Fletcher.

Fletcher had already made a cameo in the investigation of Mizuhara, as he confirmed to ESPN in March that he was present at the 2021 poker game where Mizuhara met Bowyer at the Angels' team hotel in San Diego, the beginning of what would become a $17 million bank fraud scandal.

Per ESPN, Fletcher said he didn't introduce Bowyer to Mizuhara, but the bookie did gain entry to the team hotel through an acquaintance of his. He also reportedly said he met Bowyer while playing golf and knew he was a bookmaker at the time of the poker game.

Fletcher's Angels tenure fully overlapped with Ohtani's, with the two joining the team as rookies in 2018 and leaving after the 2023 season. Fletcher was known to be one of Ohtani's best friends on the team.

David Fletcher (left) was already involved in the scandal around Shohei Ohtani's former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
David Fletcher (left) was already involved in the scandal around Shohei Ohtani's former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Fletcher signed a five-year, $26 million contract extension with the Angels in 2021 after carving out a reputation for strong contact skills and defensive versatility. His productivity fell off soon after he put pen to paper, though, as he posted a .259/.296/.327 slashline and only six homers over the following three seasons.

The Angels moved Fletcher's contract off the books in December when they traded him and catcher Max Stassi to the Braves in exchange for minor leaguers Evan White and Tyler Thomas. Fletcher has spent most of the 2024 season in the minors with Gwinnett, appearing in only five games for the big-league club.

While Ohtani's former teammate popping up in the scandal involving his former interpreter might raise some eyebrows, the details as reported don't seem to change much of what was already known about the Los Angeles Dodgers star's involvement.

The federal criminal complaint against Mizuhara made clear that the government considers Ohtani to be a victim of Mizuhara, who has reportedly agreed to plead guilty to bank fraud and subscribing to a false tax return and faces decades in prison. Ohtani consented to federal agents searching his phone, which found no mention of any illegal gambling between him and Mizuhara.

Fletcher's reported involvement does add detail to how Bowyer became acquainted with Mizuhara — namely, Fletcher knowing the bookie — and it might inspire some uncomfortable questions for the Angels if the two really met in a team hotel.

The Angels have had an illegal drug scandal inside their walls, resulting in the death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs, and it now appears that one of their players had a tangible connection to an illegal gambling ring, resulting in a $17 million theft.