Jose Reyes suspended through May 31

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Jose Reyes‘ domestic violence suspension has been handed down: he’s out through May 31, with the suspension being deemed retroactive to February 23, when he was placed on paid leave. The Rockies will play their 51st game on the 31st, meaning that this is, effectively, a 51-game suspension. Reyes may participate in extended Spring Training activities during the remainder of the suspension, followed by a rehabilitation assignment beginning on June 1. 

Reyes has agreed not to appeal the discipline, so this should be viewed as a settlement, one would think, and the earlier reports that he may have received 60-80 games should properly be viewed as warning shots fired across his bow to get him to not appeal. Either way, he will be out $7.3 million of his $22 million salary for 2016. He will also pay $100,000 to domestic violence charities.

Here is Commissioner Manfred’s statement on the suspension:

“My office has completed its investigation into the allegation that Jose Reyes committed an act of domestic violence on October 31, 2015.  The investigation was prolonged and complicated initially by the existence of a pending criminal proceeding against Mr. Reyes in Hawaii involving the same allegation, which has since been dismissed.  Mr. Reyes cooperated fully with my office’s investigation.  Having reviewed all of the available evidence, I have concluded that Mr. Reyes violated the Policy and should be subject to discipline in the form of an unpaid suspension that will expire on May 31st.  I am encouraged by Mr. Reyes’ commitment to the treatment provisions of the Policy in order to ensure that such an incident does not occur in the future.  Mr. Reyes also agreed to contribute a total of $100,000 to one or more charitable organizations focused on preventing and treating survivors of domestic violence.”

Jose Reyes has issued as statement as well:

I want to apologize for everything that has happened. I am sorry to the Rockies organization, my teammates, all the fans and most of all my family.

I am happy to put this all in the past and get back to doing what I love the most, playing baseball.

My wife Katherine has remained by my side throughout everything and for that I will be forever grateful.

I do not know what is appropriate here. Reyes’ case certainly involved active, physical violence as his wife was alleged to have marks on her neck, suggesting that she was choked, as well as bruises on her body, and one can make a very compelling argument that such an act should cause a player to be given a larger suspension than 51 games (i.e. 29 games less than a first time PED offense). At the same time, MLB’s domestic violence policy is in its infancy and there are not yet any strong or reliable means of judging the deterrent effect of such discipline. As is the case with most disciplinary regimes, it’s far easier to ratchet-up penalties at a later date than it is to ratchet them down. If this proves to be ineffective or insufficient, the league and union can always ratchet up.

Either way, one takeaway here should be that MLB is willing to follow through on its promise of taking each situation on a case-by-case basis and to act even when law enforcement is unwilling or unable to. And that’s not nothing.