Now is the time for Major League Baseball to enact a domestic violence policy

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Obviously all the details and information you’ll want about the whole Ray Rice thing can be read over at PFT. Now let’s think about what this all means for Major League Baseball.

As we and many others noted back in July, Major League Baseball has never suspended anyone for domestic violence. Some individual clubs have, but there is no league policy or protocol. Nor is there one for drunk driving or any number of other crimes that don’t relate to the sport on the field. The league has decided, for whatever reason, that it doesn’t want to tread there. Maybe it’s because it’s complicated — Do you punish based on an arrest? A conviction? All crimes? Just some? — or maybe because there is a lack of will and nerve. I’m sure there are a lot of answers to that question, several of which have a grain of truth.

But if the Ray Rice situation serves as a lesson to league leadership — over and above the obvious lesson of violence against women being abhorrent and all-too-common — the lesson is that you do not, under any circumstances, want to be in the business of reacting to situations like these as opposed to dealing with them in an orderly and reasoned manner. When you react you will inevitably look as horrifyingly out-of-touch and cynical as the NFL looks here. When an organization has no official and guiding principles, organizational impulses to try to limit damage at any cost and miss the vast forest in front of it because of one bothersome p.r. tree in front of it come to the fore. It’s all that there is if there is no policy. It, along with hubris, is how an organization as powerful as the NFL found itself in a position where it had to plainly lie and claim that allegedly newly-found video tapes mandated Ray Rice’s suspension and dismissal as opposed to the video tape actually seeing the light of day.

The NBA learned this lesson with Donald Sterling. Major League Baseball learned it for years and, in many ways, is still paying the price for it when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs. If you wait for a fire to break out in your house before thinking about how to put it out, you’re gonna get burned.

Baseball needs to think hard about changing this. It needs to sit down with union leadership and figure out some policies about how to punish off-the-field behavior just like any other organization with high-profile employees placed in positions of trust might punish employees for such behavior outside the workplace.

Doing so will show that the league has standards and ethics regarding the sort of people it wants within its select ranks. Doing so in conjunction with the MLBPA will ensure a situation where litigation and acrimony are largely absent from future disciplinary acts. Doing so before the next player gets arrested for a heinous and unacceptable act will ensure that Major League Baseball does not look as tone deaf and horrible as the NFL looks today.

And — I hope this goes without saying — doing so will help show people that violence against women is wrong in any and every context.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.