Major League Baseball just announced that free agent catcher Derek Norris, most recently with the Tampa Bay Rays, has been placed on the Restricted List and will be ineligible for the remainder of the 2017 season, including the postseason. The discipline is being imposed based on the results of the league’s investigation into domestic violence allegations leveled at Norris by his ex-fiancee earlier this year. Norris has agreed not to appeal the discipline.
Back in June Norris’ ex-fiancee, Kristen Eck, implied in an Instagram post that Norris assaulted her two years ago. Then, a few days later, she expounded on the incident in a personal blog post, claiming that on the night of October 20, 2015, she woke up to find Norris on the phone with another woman. Eck said she took the phone away from Norris to try to confront the other woman over the phone. Norris, she says, approached her from behind and put her in a choke hold. When she tried to get away, he grabbed her by the back of her hair to pull her back to him and then held her by her upper arms as “he tried to drunkenly explain that he wasn’t talking to another female.” Norris denied the allegations soon after Eck’s story went public.
Based on the league’s statement, Major League Baseball didn’t buy that denial, which Norris continues to stand by. Rob Manfred:
“My office has completed its investigation into the allegation that Derek Norris violated Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence Policy on October 21, 2015. Mr. Norris cooperated throughout the investigation, including submitting to an in-person interview with MLB’s Department of Investigations. After reviewing the evidence, I determined that Mr. Norris’s conduct warranted discipline under the Joint Domestic Violence Policy. While Mr. Norris denies the allegation against him, he and I have agreed that he will spend the remainder of the 2017 season away from the game and that he will forfeit $100,000 of his remaining termination pay from the Tampa Bay Rays, which will be donated by the Rays to one or more charitable organizations focused on preventing and treating survivors of domestic violence. The charitable organizations will be selected by the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association.”
Norris, who was released by the Rays at the end of June, will be unable to play either major league or minor league baseball, nor will he be able to sign a contract with a Major League organization until after the World Series. And of course, he’s out $100,000. Given that he has not signed with a team before now and, as of today, would not have been eligible to participate in the playoffs even if he had, the suspension itself is really more symbolic than substantive. The league takes its offenders as it finds them, however.