Arrest Of Star Player Will Test MLB’s Commitment On Domestic Violence

CREDIT: David Zalubowski, AP

Colorado Rockies' Jose Reyes reacts after popping out to Seattle Mariners shortstop Brad Miller to end the sixth inning of an inter league baseball game Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Jose Reyes, the shortstop for the Colorado Rockies, was arrested on Halloween after allegedly assaulting his wife in their Maui hotel room, according to HawaiiNewsNow.

As the investigation unfolds, all eyes will be on Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner Rob Manfred. This is the first big test of the MLB’s new Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Policy that was unveiled in August and gives Manfred the power to hand down discipline in domestic violence cases, regardless of previous precedent or legal status.

“It’s a test of the policy, but it is also a test of Manfred,” Mike Bates wrote on SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish. “Manfred needs to chart his league’s own course, almost without guidance. What is an appropriate penalty in baseball for what Reyes allegedly did?”

The initial report alleges that Reyes, a 32-year-old four-time MLB All-Star from the Dominican Republic, and Katherine, his wife and the mother of their three daughters, were arguing in their room at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. Security at the hotel called police, and according to sources, Katherine told the responding officer that Reyes “grabbed her off the bed and shoved her” and “grabbed her throat and shoved her into the sliding glass balcony door.”

Katherine was taken to the Maui Memorial Medical Center after telling police that she had injuries to her thigh, neck, and wrist, while Reyes was arrested by police for “abuse of a family or household member” and released on bail.

In the past 25 years, despite numerous domestic violence arrests and accusations, no player has been suspended by the league for domestic violence, and only a few players have been disciplined by their individual teams. In his 22-year tenure, former commissioner Bud Selig never once intervened in a domestic violence case.

“I’ll admit, we weren’t on this issue before,” Dan Halem, chief labor officer for Major League Baseball, told ThinkProgress in April. “We were heavily focused on inclusion… sexual orientation issue, but the whole domestic violence issue we haven’t focused on and I’m not going to tell you otherwise.”

But after the NFL received nearly universal criticism for its handling of the now-infamous domestic violence incident involving Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, MLB and the sport’s union worked together to create this new policy.

Unlike the NFL, which gives commissioner Roger Goodell power over discipline and arbitration, MLB has established a three-person arbitration panel that consists of a representative from league, a representative from the players association, and an “independent arbitrator” to oversee appeals of sanctions. There is no minimum or maximum sanction.

The league has also established a mandatory education program for all MLB clubs, majors and minors, and a 24-hour helpline in both English and Spanish that is available for players and families who need assistance or have questions. MLB has also said that it will provide perpetrators with a treatment plan, including but not limited to possible counseling sessions.

MLB released a statement on Tuesday stating that it “understands the seriousness of the issues surrounding domestic violence, and our Policy explicitly recognizes the harm resulting from such acts.” The statement added that an investigation into the incident had already begun, and any action taken by the Commissioner’s Office will be in accordance to their new domestic violence policy. The Rockies echoed those sentiments, and said that the organization is “extremely disappointed and concerned to learn of the allegations involving Jose Reyes.”

ThinkProgress reached out to the MLB Players Association for a comment, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.