Jose Reyes Case: Major League Baseball’s Move


While we don’t know everything that went on last October in Maui between Jose Reyes and his wife, we do know this: Major League Baseball suddenly finds itself in a situation it really doesn’t want to be in with the Colorado shortstop.

Jose Reyes, who was traded to the Rockies last season in the deal that sent Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays, was arrested last Halloween at the Wailea Four Seasons Resort after 911 was called because of a disturbance between Reyes and his wife. A hotel security guard reported that the woman had injuries to her leg and scratches on her neck.

Once news broke of the arrest and subsequent April 4 hearing on the matter (ironically, the day the Rockies are to open the season at the Arizona Diamondbacks), Reyes was placed on administrative leave. He hasn’t participated in any spring training exercises with the Rockies and has probably been reading the papers and seeing Trevor Story earn spring MVP honors as well as the nod as the Rockies’ Opening Day shortstop.

The Rockies and MLB were waiting to see what judgment would be handed down by the Hawaiian court … and then those plans were suddenly changed. Jose Reyes’ wife has refused to talk to authorities about the incident and won’t return to Maui to cooperate. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kerry Glen told the Associated Press that, “The complaining witness, Mr. Reyes’ wife, is what we call an uncooperative witness. At this point, I have no other avenue for prosecution.”

Jose Reyes originally pleaded not guilty to abusing a family or household member. Now it appears that he will not have his day in court … and any punishment will be left in the hands of MLB authorities.

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MLB’s view on Reyes

I talked to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred about the case during spring training and he made it clear he would wait until the judicial process played out before making any decisions.

“It’s pretty straightforward. He’s on administrative leave. He has a hearing scheduled in early April. My expectation is that once that process plays out, we’ll be in a position that

My expectation is that once that process plays out, we’ll be in a position that have access to all of the facts and be in a position to act quickly,” Manfred said.

But, with Reyes’ wife not cooperating and Maui prosecutors moving to dismiss the charge, there won’t be a process now. MLB’s decision is not only tougher, but also will set a precedent as the Reyes case was the first to be activated under baseball’s new domestic violence policy.

“This is brand new policy. Each of these cases is different. They’re fact-specific. And it’s not just what you think the facts are. It’s also what facts you can prove,” Manfred said. “I can imagine a scenario where you were able to get all of the information and put yourself in a position to make a decision. On the other hand, the single biggest mistake you can make here is to make a decision quickly and then have additional facts come out afterwards and undermine the quality of that decision.”

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In a statement, MLB said that Reyes, “remains on administrative leave until the commissioner completes his investigation and imposes any discipline.”

MLB has handed down its first discipline under the new policy, handing Aroldis Chapman of the New York Yankees a 30-day suspension following an incident with his girlfriend, ironically in October as well. However, the Chapman suspension clearly states that it will not set precedent for any other discipline under the policy.

What’s next

Now Manfred and MLB must sort through what they can determine about the case and make a decision on Jose Reyes. Manfred emphasized during our spring training chat that it wasn’t just him who would be making the decision on Reyes. It would be a group of people who would make sure MLB got not only the facts, but also the punishment, correct.

While MLB works to gather information, Jose Reyes is on administrative leave (paid suspension) and can start accruing his $22 million salary on Sunday when the 2016 MLB season opens. In other words, Reyes collects his money while waiting to see what MLB and the Rockies decide. The Rockies also must wait, as the club won’t comment on the matter or begin to assess its roster moves until the MLB reaches a decision.

Yes, to quote Tom Petty, the waiting truly is the hardest part here. Nothing can happen until MLB makes its decision, a decision that will not only impact a player and a baseball team, but also set the tone for how MLB addresses domestic violence.

And that’s perhaps the most important thing that will come out of the decision. It’s said that every nine seconds in the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten. After a season where the NFL took shot after shot for its handling of domestic violence and abuse cases, Manfred, entering his second season as MLB’s commissioner, has the chance to solidify a tough stance on domestic violence and send a clear signal to players that it won’t be tolerated.

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We may never know exactly what happened in October between Reyes and his wife, but we know that now, the events of that night could shape how MLB is viewed throughout this season and beyond when it comes to domestic violence.