Rob Manfred said the benefits of the league’s domestic violence policy extend beyond discipline.
It was not long after MLB and the players’ union instituted its jointly agreed upon domestic violence policy that it was first put to the test. Jose Reyes, Aroldis Chapman and Yasiel Puig had new commissioner Rob Manfred exploring these emotional issues in the very first offseason after the policy was put in place.
While the policy is not perfect, it was a good step for baseball, which was spurred on by the embarrassing way the NFL had handled high-profile incidents, such as the video showing Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee in an elevator. With football facing up to yet another mistake in handling the case of Giants kicker Josh Brown, Major League Baseball is not going to rest on its 13-page policy, which involves spousal and partner abuse, child abuse and sexual assault.
The MLB Players Association said Thursday that after a year in place, the policy has worked well.
“The policy jointly created by the MLBPA and Commissioner’s Office was developed with a great deal of thought and attention over nearly a year to address the extremely complex nature of the issue," according to a statement from the union. "With that in mind, the system that was created appears to be working the way it was intended."
As Manfred said earlier this month, the league expects the policy to possibly be improved and enhanced during the ongoing collective bargaining with the union. The current CBA expires in December, but Manfred and union members expect the policy to continue to evolve with the new agreement.
"I’m proud of the domestic violence policy," Manfred said earlier this month. "I think it’s an example of Baseball working with the Players Association to get a collectively bargained policy in place that allowed us to deal with a number of rather difficult situations. Basically by agreement. No litigation — I think that’s a good thing.
"I think the important aspects of the policy are not the disciplinary ones, solely. But in addition to having a good discipline policy, I think it’s a policy that provides for education, support, the things that are necessary to allow the player and whoever else is involved to move forward in a positive way," Manfred continued. "As with everything in our collective bargaining agreement, I’m sure there will be adjustments and changes as a result of the collective bargaining process, but I don’t want to get into the ones on domestic violence or collective bargaining topics generally. It’s just better left in the room until we get an agreement."
So far, the policy has allowed MLB to avoid the mistakes the NFL has made, and Manfred has handed down some significant suspensions.
Reyes and Chapman were suspended 51 and 30 games, respectively, as the first two cases to test the policy.
Then a Rockies shortstop, Reyes was accused of grabbing his wife and shoving her into a sliding glass door at a Hawaii hotel, when she reportedly sustained injuries to her neck and left leg. Reyes was arrested on charges of abuse of a family or household member. He was released on $1,000 bail. He pleaded not guilty, but prosecutors dropped the charges, citing his wife’s failure to cooperate.
Reyes accepted his suspension, made a $100,000 donation to a charity focused on domestic violence and took part in treatment and counseling.
Jose Reyes served a 51-game suspension this season for allegedly assaulting his wife.
After serving his unpaid suspension, the Rockies released Reyes and the Mets signed him with stipulations in his contract to continue with the treatment portion of MLB’s policy. Mets GM Sandy Alderson said earlier this month Reyes had met those stipulations.
Chapman was investigated by MLB for allegedly choking his girlfriend and firing eight gunshots in his garage following an argument. Police determined there was insufficient evidence to charge Chapman, but the Cuban closer’s start to the season with the Yankees was delayed a month, and he lost nearly $2 million in salary.
Puig was not suspended after a TMZ report said there was a physical altercation with his sister. That report was later retracted, but MLB reserved the right to re-open the case if any new evidence emerges.
Since that first batch of tests to the MLB policy, Manfred used it to act swiftly in the case of former Braves outfielder Hector Olivera, who was convicted last month of assault. The commissioner put Olivera on an 82-game suspension after the April 13 incident in Arlington, Va.
Police were called April 13 to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pentagon City, where a woman with visible bruises reported that Olivera had assaulted her. Police said Olivera and the woman are acquainted.
MLB has also shown patience in the case of Pirates infielder Jung-Ho Kang, who is considered a "potential suspect" in an alleged sexual assault in Chicago back in June. The league is awaiting the conclusion of the police investigation into the incident. The police have said they continue to try and investigate but have lost contact with the alleged victim.