During a time of year when the Colorado Rockies should be focusing on offseason acquisitions and Nolan Arenado winning awards, the specter of domestic violence is casting a long, troubling shadow over Coors Field.
Jose Reyes, acquired by the Rockies in the trade that sent stalwart shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays, was arrested on October 31 in Maui for an alleged domestic abuse incident. Reyes reportedly shoved his wife into a sliding glass door at their hotel after grabbing her by the throat. She required medical attention at the scene.
The incident landed Reyes in jail, where he posted a $1,000 bond to be released. He is now scheduled to appear in a Maui courthouse on November 24 for his arraignment and plea.
While Reyes awaits his court date, he, the Rockies, and the baseball world await the decision of Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, who oversaw MLB’s implementation of a new domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy in August. This is the first test of that new system and provides Manfred the right to discipline Reyes, even if he is not convicted of the Halloween incident.
“I think the key from our perspective was being proactive and negotiating what we see as a comprehensive policy with the (Players Association) so that everybody knows how the process is going to work and how we are going to move forward together,” Manfred said during a recent news conference. “The word that I would like to emphasize there is ‘comprehensive.’ This is not just a discipline policy. It is a policy that requires evaluation, counseling and a variety of other activities in addition to the disciplinary component. This will be the first test and I think it will stand the test.”
This isn’t the first time that Reyes has been disappointing to the Colorado faithful. He batted .259 with three homers and 19 RBI, but also had some horrid baserunning blunders and stumbled in August by saying he didn’t want to play for a “last-place team.” If people are going to pay to watch a game and root for a team, they want to know the players are going to put forth effort to win, not simply worry about their own career.
However, there’s a difference to fans not liking what do you on the field and loathing what you do off the field. The National Football League has faced tremendous backlash in recent months with its handling of domestic abuse cases involving Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Greg Hardy. In the wake of that, it’s hard to imagine that baseball’s commissioner will not hand down a stiff sentence to Reyes to set the tone for his sport’s views on domestic violence.
Reyes also has two years left on his contract with the Rockies and is owed $56 million through 2017. There was discussion that Colorado might flip Reyes shortly after obtaining him but the move was never made and any trade value that the 32-year-old shortstop might have had has withered away.
The Rockies issued a statement, saying they are “extremely disappointed and concerned” to learn of the domestic abuse allegations. It’s a delicate balancing act for the team. On one hand, they have to let the legal process play out for Reyes. On the other, they can see the public relations nightmare that the Dallas Cowboys have endured on an almost daily basis with Hardy.
Many will discuss the value of a second chance, but if the allegations against Reyes prove true, Major League Baseball must move swiftly to punish him and the Rockies must be expeditious in getting Reyes out of Denver. Even if it means Colorado eats his contract, it will be better in the long run than seeing Coors Field become a safe haven for those who use their strength for abuse rather than hitting homers.
Doing the right thing should always trump a financial decision. As we head into the end of the month, it will very apparent which road MLB and the Rockies take.