TAMPA, Fla — Twice this month, Aroldis Chapman has emphatically declared his intent to appeal any suspension handed down by Major League Baseball in his domestic-violence case.
That decision has been expected any day for the last week, and when it does come down — some seem to think there’s a strong chance it will happen Monday — Chapman’s appeal will have the full backing of the Players Association.
“It’s a very sensitive issue to discuss, but our job is very fundamental,” said Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, which was in town Sunday morning to meet with Yankees players. “We protect, defend and advance the rights of our members. That’s what we do. We understand the topic, we appreciate the topic. I have been educated tremendously on the topic in ways that I simply didn’t have an understanding of prior to our conversations over a year ago . . . But as it relates to our members, we will defend due process and our members at every stop.”
As a part of the domestic-violence policy agreed upon last year between the players and management, commissioner Rob Manfred has the right to impose discipline regardless of whether law enforcement brings charges.
Per the agreement, players have the right to appeal any discipline to an arbitrator and, depending on Manfred’s ruling, may or may not continue to play in the time leading up to a hearing. “I don’t know what to expect or anticipate at this time,” Clark said. “Any rule is open to interpretation.”
MLB is investigating three incidents of alleged domestic violence involving Chapman, the Rockies’ Jose Reyes and the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig. MLB placed Reyes on paid leave last week pending the completion of the criminal proceedings that have been brought against him. No charges were brought against Chapman as a result of the alleged incident between him and his girlfriend at his Miami-area home last Oct. 30.
Nothing in the agreement gives a specific discipline for a specific alleged transgression. Clark said the union is OK with the seemingly open-ended aspect of the policy and disputed the notion that the union agreed to something in which management had the final decision.
“[The union] will never exist in a world where there is one judge, jury and sentencer,’’ Clark said. “We fought for it too long . . . to ever assume that that’s going to be the case.”
In another topic, the $15.8-million qualifying offer is expected to be a hot-button issue when the CBA expires Dec. 1. Top free agents generally have rejected the offer. Some lower-tier free agents who did so went unsigned until after the start of spring training or the season because teams didn’t want to give up the compensatory draft pick.
“It is a concern any time you have a system in place that, for whatever reasons, suggests that players who can help teams perform well on the field and compete do not have jobs,” Clark said.
The last handful of CBAs were negotiated with little blood spilled; there have been no work stoppages since 1994-95. Although the two sides are flush with money as local and national TV deals continue to explode, it’s far too early to suggest this negotiation will follow suit.
“There are always challenges, there always have been, there always will be, so I’ll use a quote that Michael [Weiner] shared often,” Clark said of his late predecessor as executive director. “And that was, ‘Labor peace is not the goal when you go into a negotiation, fair and equitable is.’ So I remain cautiously optimistic that we can continue the trend on fair and equitable while making improvements across the board.”