Jose Reyes' domestic violence case shows MLB policy has ramifications

Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes is paying a significant price, and may come to epitomize Major League Baseball’s domestic violence cases.

The man forfeited his dignity.

He will forfeit about $7 million.

He even lost his job.

MLB announced Friday that Reyes will be suspended without pay until May 31, credited for time served during his administrative leave, which began Feb. 23, when he was preparing his legal defense after being arrested in Hawaii for allegedly abusing his wife, Katherine.

Prosecutors in Maui ultimately dropped the case after he was ordered to stand trial on domestic abuse when his wife refused to cooperate with investigators. Yet Major League Baseball already had all of the evidence it needed from excerpts of a police report, and Reyes, to his credit, cooperated with MLB officials.

He did not appeal.

“My office has completed its investigation into the allegation that Jose Reyes committed an act of domestic violence on October 31, 2015," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "The investigation was prolonged and complicated initially by the existence of a pending criminal proceeding against Mr. Reyes in Hawaii involving the same allegation, which has since been dismissed.  Mr. Reyes cooperated fully with my office’s investigation.

“Having reviewed all of the available evidence, I have concluded that Mr. Reyes violated the Policy and should be subject to discipline in the form of an unpaid suspension that will expire on May 31st.  I am encouraged by Mr. Reyes’ commitment to the treatment provisions of the Policy in order to ensure that such an incident does not occur in the future."

While Major League Baseball and the players union still are trying to figure out a way to further deter the temptation for players to use performance-enhancing drugs – some 11 years after suspensions with penalties, the risk still proves worth the reward - baseball’s new domestic abuse policy may have gotten it right the first time.

It’s working like a charm.

Reyes officially is suspended 51 games, and permitted to immediately participate in the Rockies’ extended spring training. He will be eligible to play in minor-league games starting June 1, an assignment that could last a couple weeks, considering the man hasn’t played in a game since last October.

Yet, it’s very possible he has played his final major-league game in a Rockies uniform.

While Reyes was gone, the starting job opportunity was provided to rookie Trevor Story. He seized it and he’s not giving it back. He is hitting .266 with 11 homers and 27 RBI, while playing fabulous defense.

The Rockies, who planned to trade Reyes all along after they acquired him last July in the Troy Tulowitzki deal, now are desperate to move him.

It won’t be easy. Reyes still is owed about $15 million for the duration of this season, and another $22 million next year with a $4 million buyout in 2018. The Rockies will have to eat most of the salary. Yet, barring an injury to Story, they really have no use for him.

So it means that one ugly night in Hawaii cost Reyes his pride and his job.

Certainly, it’s much more damaging than if he had simply been caught using performance-enhancing drugs. After all, appealing a PED violation would mean Reyes played while it was working through the system, likely denying Story the chance to seize the job in the first place.

“I want to apologize for everything that has happened," Reyes said in a statement released by the players' association. “I am sorry to the Rockies organization, my teammates, all the fans and most of all my family. I am happy to put this all in the past and get back to doing what I love the most, playing baseball.

“My wife Katherine has remained by my side throughout everything and for that I will be forever grateful."

Perhaps Reyes can get his life back in order, but his baseball career is in jeopardy.

His skills were already deteriorating, and now he’s a marked man, with many teams unwilling to take a chance on him with a domestic abuse case glaring on his resume.

Teams won’t be looking at the back of his baseball card. There will be no need for scouts to assess his skills.

They’ll instead be looking at the portion of a police report that was obtained by a Hawaii news organization. Police say Reyes grabbed his wife by her throat and shoved her into a sliding glass door, before hotel security called police. She told police that she had injuries to her side, neck and wrist before being taken to the emergency room in Maui.

There are teams who won’t touch Reyes because of this case, just as the Los Angeles Dodgers and others back away from their pursuit of then-Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, after his domestic abuse case during the winter. He was traded to the New York Yankees, wound up receiving a month-long suspension for firing nine bullets in his garage after an argument with his girlfriend turned physical, and was reinstated this past week.

Next on the docket is Atlanta Braves outfielder Hector Olivera, who is on paid administrative leave after being arrested on April 13 and charged with assaulting a woman at a hotel outside Washington, D.C.

MLB is still investigating the incident, but you can be assured it will come down hard.

The precedent has been set.

Major League Baseball has demonstrated that it has a zero tolerance policy for domestic violence, and the punishment will be severe.

Reyes – out $7 million and his livelihood very much in jeopardy - will forever be proof.