Aroldis Chapman suspended 30 games under the domestic violence policy
Major League Baseball has suspended Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman for 30 games for violation of the league’s domestic violence policy. The suspension will begin at the start of the regular season. He will be allowed to continue to train with the Yankees during spring training. While Chapman had previously said he would appeal any suspension, he has changed his mind and has agreed not to do so.
The length of the suspension -- 30 games -- will be hotly debated by many. Some may say that domestic violence is more serious than, say, performance-enhancing drugs, thereby justifying a stiffer penalty. Some may counter that an off-the-field transgression should not be punished as harshly as an on-the-field transgression. There will also be room for arguing that, while this suspension is 30 games, Major League Baseball is not limited from going higher in cases which it deems to be more serious than this one. And, of course, there will be debate about “seriousness” as well.
No matter where you fall on that, the facts as we know them are serious and they are this: Chapman was alleged to have pushed and choked his girlfriend in his home on October 30 before firing off at least eight gunshots in his garage. He was not arrested on that night and no charges were filed. Major League Baseball, however, has made it clear that their new domestic violence policy sets forth a higher standard than that set by law enforcement thereby allowing it to impose discipline arising out of domestic violence situations even if the player is not charged with a crime.
Another implication of a 30-game suspension: Chapman will not be suspended for so long as to prevent him from reaching free agency this year based on accrued service time. If the suspension had been in excess of 45 games he’d be under team control for one more year. Had that occurred it almost certainly would’ve resulted in an appeal from Chapman that would likely have the effect of undermining MLB’s desire to appear decisive in this case. It’s hard to imagine that such considerations were not taken into account when the penalty was decided. Indeed, this has the air of a negotiated or plea-bargained penalty, designed to make this as neat and tidy as it could be under the circumstances. For better or for worse.
Whatever you think of it, this was Major League Baseball’s first-ever suspension under its new policy. From here on out, Chapman’s 30 games will be a baseline against which all other penalties are measured.
Commissioner Rob Manfred offered the following statement:
Aroldis Chapman’s statement soon followed: