Angels employee told feds he supplied Tyler Skaggs with opioids

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Latest: Major League Baseball has an opioid problem. Now what?

In the wake of the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs from a drug overdose, Skaggs’ family issued a statement in which they suggested that an Angles’ employee played some role in Skaggs’ death. It would seem that they were correct in their assumptions.

ESPN’s Outside the Lines reports that an employee of the Los Angeles Angels told the Drug Enforcement Agency that he supplied Skaggs with opioids. He told the DEA that he too abused opioids with Tyler Skaggs for years, that he told two team officials about Skaggs’ abuse, and named as many as five other current Angels players as having used opioids.

The employee is Eric Kay, the Angels Director of Communications who, according to his LinkedIn page, has been an Angels employee since 1996. Kay told the DEA all of this during two interviews in late September. Kay’s attorney confirmed the substance of ESPN’s report to ESPN late last night.

Kay, ESPN reports, told investigators that he routinely gave Skaggs Oxycontin — Kay would obtain it and Skaggs would reimburse him for them via Venmo transactions ESPN reviewed — and often used it with him. He also supplied drugs to Skaggs on the day of his death:

Kay told DEA investigators that hours before Skaggs’ death in July, Skaggs was in his Southlake Hilton hotel room and texted Kay to visit him, according to a source familiar with what Kay told the DEA. Kay also told investigators that Skaggs snorted three lines of crushed opioids in front of him, the sources said. Kay recognized that two of the lines could have been crushed oxycodone, but the third was not a substance he recognized, the sources said.

The autopsy report revealed the presence of Fentanyl in Skaggs’ system. It’s possible that that was the third substance, assuming Kay’s statements to the DEA are accurate. Kay is currently on paid leave from the Angels while in a substance abuse program.

One of the team employees who May says knew of Skaggs’ use is Tim Mead, who recently left the Angels to become the President of the Hall of Fame. Mead says he was unaware of Skaggs’ use, though he was aware of Kay’s. Kay says he told Mead about Skaggs’ use as early as 2017.

In August, the Angels suffered a major tragedy. Now they, several of their players and Major League Baseball have a massive, massive scandal on their hands.

UPDATE: The Angels have issued a statement in the wake of the ESPN report:

“We have never heard that any employee was providing illegal narcotics to any player, or that any player was seeking illegal narcotics,” Angels president John Carpino said. “The Angels maintain a strict, zero tolerance policy regarding the illicit use of drugs for both players and staff. Every one of our players must also abide by the MLB Joint Drug Agreement. We continue to mourn the loss of Tyler and fully cooperate with the authorities as they continue their investigation.”

AP Source: Minor leaguers reach five-year labor deal with MLB

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
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NEW YORK – Minor league players reached a historic initial collective bargaining agreement with Major League Baseball on Wednesday that will more than double player salaries, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details were not announced.

As part of the five-year deal, MLB agreed during the contract not to reduce minor league affiliates from the current 120.

The sides reached the deal two days before the start of the minor league season and hours after a federal judge gave final approval to a $185 million settlement reached with MLB last May of a lawsuit filed in 2014 alleging violations of federal minimum wage laws.

Union staff recommended approval and about 5,500 minor leaguers were expected to vote on Thursday. MLB teams must also vote to approve and are expected to do so over the next week.

Minimum salaries will rise from $4,800 to $19,800 at rookie ball, $11,000 to $26,200 at Low Class A, $11,000 to $27,300 at High Class A, $13,800 to $27,300 at Double A and $17,500 to $45,800 at Triple-A. Players will be paid in the offseason for the first time.

Most players will be guaranteed housing, and players at Double-A and Triple-A will be given a single room. Players below Double-A will have the option of exchanging club housing for a stipend. The domestic violence and drug policies will be covered by the union agreement. Players who sign for the first time at 19 or older can become minor league free agents after six seasons instead of seven.

Major leaguers have been covered by a labor contract since 1968 and the average salary has soared from $17,000 in 1967 to an average of $4.22 million last season. Full-season minor leaguers earned as little as $10,400 last year.

The Major League Baseball Players Association took over as the bargaining representative of the roughly 5,500 players with minor league contracts last September after a lightning 17-day organization drive.

Minor leaguers players will receive four weeks of retroactive spring training pay for this year. They will get $625 weekly for spring training and offseason training camp and $250 weekly for offseason workouts at home.

Beginning in 2024, teams can have a maximum of 165 players under contract during the season and 175 during the offseason, down from the current 190 and 180.

The union will take over group licensing rights for players.

Negotiating for players was led by Tony Clark, Bruce Meyer, Harry Marino, Ian Penny and Matt Nussbaum. MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem headed management’s bargainers.