Braves outfielder Hector Olivera has been suspended through Aug. 1 without pay for violating Major League Baseball’s joint policy on domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.
The suspension is retroactive to April 30 and amounts to 82 games, which will cost him just over half of his $4 million salary for 2016. Olivera agreed not to appeal the suspension, according to MLB and the MLB Players Association.
Olivera, 31, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery April 13 after an alleged domestic-violence incident at the Braves’ team hotel in Arlington, Va., in which police said a female acquaintance who called 911 was visibly bruised and was later treated at a local hospital.
Olivera was placed on one-week paid leave by MLB immediately after the arrest, and the paid leave was later extended two more weeks while MLB continued its investigation. The suspension was announced Thursday by commissioner Rob Manfred after the conclusion of the investigation.
“The Braves fully support Major League Baseball’s decision regarding Hector Olivera,” the team said in a prepared statement. “The Club will have no further comment on the matter at this time.”
Manfred has broad powers to levy suspensions under baseball’s domestic-violence policy, whether or not a player is charged with a crime. Olivera was charged and released on $10,000 bond, and his trial is set for July 11.
He received the most severe punishment handed out so far by MLB under its new domestic-violence policy. Aroldis Chapman got 30-game suspension, but he was not arrested and criminal charges were not filed. Jose Reyes got a 51-game suspension, though criminal charges were reportedly dropped before his case went to court.
In announcing the Olivera suspension, Manfred said, “My office has completed its investigation into the allegation that Hector Olivera violated Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy on April 13, 2016. Having reviewed all of the available evidence, I have concluded that Mr. Olivera violated the Policy and should be subject to discipline in the form of an unpaid suspension that will expire on August 1. Mr. Olivera has also agreed to make a significant charitable contribution to one or more charitable organizations focused on preventing and treating survivors of domestic violence.”
Olivera will be permitted to participate in extended spring training during the remainder of the suspension, and can begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment no sooner than July 15. However, it’s still unclear whether the Braves have any intention of bringing him back to play for the team, so upset were they by the alleged incident.
MLB will also require Olivera to participate in a confidential and comprehensive evaluation and treatment program supervised by its joint policy board.
Entering the 2016 season, Olivera was owed $32.5 million by the Braves over the final five years of a six-year, $62.5 million contract he signed with the Dodgers in March 2015 after defecting from Cuba and being declared a free agent. The Dodgers traded him about four months after signing him, eating the $28 million signing bonus and his first year’s salary in the deal.
Olivera has been a disappointment both on and off the field for the Braves since being acquired in a three-team, 13-player trade that sent former Braves top infield prospect Jose Peraza and left-handed starter Alex Wood, among others, to the Dodgers before last year’s non-waiver trade deadline.
Regardless of whether he plays for the Braves again, it’s believed the Braves are responsible for the other $30.5 million owed through 2020 to Olivera, all but the $2.03 million he loses during the suspension. His contract was guaranteed, like most baseball contracts, and misdemeanor charges are probably not enough to nullify the deal.
He has hit .245 and produced a .674 OPS through the first 30 games of his major league career.
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