Aroldis Chapman became the first player to be suspended for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, and his punishment – 30 games without pay – is right on the money (no pun intended).
Chapman will miss 18.5 percent of the season and will lose roughly $1.8 million of his annual salary.
“I think it was in line with what a lot of people expected,” longtime MLB writer and author Rob Neyer said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It’s a nice round number. Baseball likes round numbers. Now, of course what was different about this suspension was it was the first – and by virtue of being the first, it set a very important precedent. Baseball suspensions, as you know, are based entirely on precedent. They have to be. If baseball levies a suspension that isn’t based on precedent, it will be appealed by the union and the appeal will be successful, most likely. So this set a precedent. I think it’s pretty clear that before it was made public, it was all negotiated with the union. That’s why Chapman is not appealing. He agreed to this thing, I think, before it became public.”
And no, that is not how suspensions are typically handled.
“It isn’t typically done (this way) because typically it’s not the first time,” Neyer said. “But yes, when it’s the first time, it makes sense to do it that way. Since Rob Manfred became commissioner, we’ve seen a great deal of consensus between the commissioner’s office and the union. He is a master negotiator. In fact, before he was commissioner, he was in charge of negotiating with the union. They get most of the hard work done before we even hear about it. I’m sure that’s the case here, too.”
Either way, Amy Lawrence couldn’t help but wonder: Major League Baseball has been around for more than a century, and Chapman certainly isn’t the first player to be accused of assaulting a female. So why did it take MLB so long to institute this policy?
“I think this is mostly about public relations,” Neyer said. “Look, I don’t want to sound too cynical. I take people at their word for the most part. If they tell us this is an important consideration for them, an important issue for them, I think we have to believe them. But there are a lot of important issues out there that nobody ever does anything about. And you’re right: domestic abuse has been around for a long, long time, and nobody did anything about it. But what we’ve seen in the NFL, I think, brought the issue to the fore in the public eye, and just as a matter of public relations, I think baseball decided, ‘You know what? We need to get out in front of this thing. Let’s have a policy before anything happens and we don’t have anything ready to go.’ And wouldn’t you know it? They have a policy in place, and you’ve got two or three incidences almost immediately. The timing, as sad as it is to say, worked out quite well for baseball.”