If you’re like me, you awoke on Tuesday morning with the shocking and disappointing news that Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Julio Urias had been arrested for domestic violence.
The 22-year-old was charged with domestic violence by the Los Angeles Police Department after an altercation with his girlfriend in the parking lot of the Beverly Center around 8:00PM PT on Monday night. He was taken into custody and released at 1:30AM early Tuesday morning after posting $20,000 bail.
Major League Baseball placed Urias on administrative leave and an investigation into the incident was immediately launched. Both the team and the league released statements on Monday.
“We are aware of the incident and are in the process of gathering facts,” said the league.
“We learned about the alleged incident this morning and are in the process of gathering information,” said the team. “As a result, we have no comment at this time regarding the incident. However, every allegation of domestic violence must be taken seriously and addressed promptly, and we will cooperate fully with the authorities and Major League Baseball to ensure that that happens in this case.”
Urias was not at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday as the team began their two-game series with the San Diego Padres. Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts did his best to address the incident before the game.
“You wake up to a call and I don’t know the facts,” said Roberts. “Right now, I think I’m very choosing my words wisely, and I’m very hesitant until I learn more. Obviously, it’s not ideal in any sense of the word, but until we know more, it doesn’t behoove me to make any comments until I learn more.”
As we all wait to learn more about the details of the incident, here’s what every fan should know beforehand:
In the fall of 2015, MLB and the Major League Baseball Player’s Association agreed upon a landmark joint domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy.
“Major League Baseball and its clubs are proud to adopt a comprehensive policy that reflects the gravity and the sensitivities of these significant societal issues,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said at the time. “We believe that these efforts will foster not only an approach of education and prevention, but also a united stance against these matters throughout our sport and our communities.”
“Players are husbands, fathers, sons and boyfriends. And as such want to set an example that makes clear that there is no place for domestic abuse in our society,” added MLBPA executive director Tony Clark. “We are hopeful that this new comprehensive, collectively-bargained policy will deter future violence, promote victim safety, and serve as a step toward a better understanding of the causes and consequences of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.”
Under the policy, the Commissioner’s office will investigate all allegations, and may place the accused player on paid administrative leave for up to seven days while the allegations are investigated. That’s where Urias’ currently stands in the process.
As the investigation unfolds, the league may continue to extend the administrative leave at their discretion until their investigation is complete and discipline has been imposed.
After the investigation is complete, the Commissioner will decide on appropriate discipline, with no minimum or maximum penalty under the policy. Players may challenge the Commissioner’s decision, and it would then go to an arbitration panel.
After discipline has been imposed, the player will receive domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse training, education and resources, in addition to the annual program and outreach that is already given to players during spring training.
A joint policy board, consisting of three experts in the field and two representatives each from the MLBPA and the Commissioner’s office will then be responsible for developing an individual treatment plan for the player.
Players may be required to take psychological evaluations, attend counseling sessions, comply with court orders, relocate from a home shared with their partner, limit interactions with their partner, relinquish all weapons, and other reasonable directives designed to promote the safety of the player’s partner, children or victims.
Since the policy was implemented, 11 different players have been investigated, with nine players receiving suspensions that have varied in length from 15 games to 100 games.
For the 11 players involved, each case has been unique, and what the individual team that employs that player has decided to do after the fact has differed. There is no right or wrong decision when it comes to each team’s individual actions towards their own players, but ultimately the incorrigible actions of the player puts the team and the league in a precarious situation.
In the case of Urias, the Mexican native who has been with the Dodgers since he was just 16 years old, he has put them in a no-win situation. After the MLB’s investigation is complete, Urias will more than likely be suspended for a large chunk of games. During that time, the Dodgers will have to decide what they as a team are going to do with their once prized pitcher.
Roberts said on Tuesday that the team intends to stand pat on any decisions or statements regarding Urias until the MLB finishes their investigation and allows the process to run its course.
In the past, MLB investigations have taken weeks or months to conclude, and that will likely be the case with Urias. Fans will most certainly not see Urias on the mound in the immediate future. It’s also possible that they may not see him pitch this season, or ever again in a Dodger uniform.
Ironically, the Dodgers were involved in the first two players ever investigated for domestic violence under the new policy.
On December 7, 2015, news broke that former Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman had been involved in an alleged domestic violence incident with his girlfriend in Florida. At the time, Chapman was at the center of a trade with the Dodgers. MLB immediately put the trade on hold while the incident was investigated, and the Dodgers ultimately rescinded the trade.
The Reds traded Chapman to the Yankees three weeks later, no charges were ever filed due to lack of evidence, and Chapman was suspended by MLB for 30 games.
Yasiel Puig became the second player ever investigated for domestic violence under the new policy on March 16, 2016, after an incident between him and his sister at a Miami nightclub the prior November.
After multiple interviews with witnesses, surveillance video review from inside the nightclub, and face-to-face meetings with both Puig and his sister, MLB found no evidence of assault and did not discipline the former Dodger outfielder. Neither did the team.
Three more players were investigated during the 2016 season all with different suspension, outcomes, and disciplinary decisions by the team. Jose Reyes was with the Colorado Rockies when he was arrested for allegedly assaulting his wife in Hawaii. Charges were ultimately dismissed, but Reyes was suspended for 51 games. After serving his suspension, the Rockies optioned Reyes to Triple-A before ultimately designating him for assignment and releasing him. He signed with the New York Mets shortly thereafter, where he remained with the team until the end of last season.
Former Mets closer Jeurys Familia was arrested for domestic violence on October 31, 2016 and was suspended for 15 games after all charges were dismissed and the arrest expunged from his record. Familia remained with the Mets for the remainder of the 2017 season, and the first half of the 2018 season before he was traded to the Oakland Athletics.
Former Dodger, Hector Olivera, was arrested outside Washington D.C. in April of 2016 after a domestic dispute. He was convicted of assault and battery, and sentenced to 90 days in prison. MLB suspended Olivera for 82 games, and the Braves traded him shortly thereafter to the San Diego Padres who immediately designated him for assignment and released him. He is now retired from baseball.
The worst offender of the new policy was former Padres prospect José Torres. Torres was arrested in December of 2017 and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, criminal damage, and intimidation. The league came down hard on Torres, suspending him for 100 games. The Padres came down even harder; after serving his suspension he was designated for assignment and released. He is currently out of MLB and playing in the Independent Cam-Am league.
The two most recent examples of how the league and teams handled domestic violence allegations could be the best guide for how the Dodgers will handle Urias.
Former Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was arrested by police on May 8, 2018 and charged with assault after an incident with the mother of his three-year-old son. The woman returned to Mexico after the incident and refused to return to Toronto to testify. The charges were dropped in exchange for Osuna to not contact the victim for at least one year.
MLB’s investigation into the incident went on for six weeks before the Commissioner suspended Osuna for 75 games without pay. While serving the suspension, the Blue Jays traded Osuna to the Houston Astros where he finished the season and still pitches to this day.
Most recently, Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell was accused of domestic violence by his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy. After a two-week investigation, Russell was suspended for 40 games retroactive to Sept. 21, 2018. Russell served his suspension at the end of last season, was ineligible to participate in the postseason, and finished his suspension for the first 29 games of this season.
Russell returned to the team on May 8, and was greeted with boos by his home crowd at Wrigley Field. As of now, he remains on the team, and the Cubs have no intention of trading or releasing him, saying they want to help Russell and support him through this difficult time.
“Addison has been fully compliant to this point,” said Cubs President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein. “He has put a lot of hard work in and has started to make improvements in his life, but a lot of work remains.”
Russell says he speaks to a counselor two times a week and is working on becoming a better partner, parent, and human being.
Most likely, the Dodgers will use the Cubs handling of the Russell incident as precedent for the Urias situation. Fans have already called for the team to take a zero-tolerance stance against domestic violence of any kind and release or trade him.
Once the criminal investigation runs its course, and MLB completes their investigation, there will be a likely suspension for Urias. That’s when the Dodgers will have a tough decision to make.
Urias will forever be linked to domestic violence, and the public perception of the talented pitching prospect will forever be tainted. If the Dodgers were to trade Urias now, or before the July 31 trade deadline, they would receive pennies on the dollar for a player of his caliber and with a team-friendly contract.
If they were to release him, other teams in baseball (cough, cough the Yankees, Mets, and Astros) would sign Urias in a heartbeat, claiming the 22-year-old just needs a “second chance,” and that everyone at some point in their life deserves at least that.
If the Dodgers were to do nothing and allow Urias to return to the team after serving his suspension, then they appear publicly as the organization that condones domestic violence and employs offenders of such a heinous crime.
Complicating matters is the team’s already seven-year investment in Urias, the fact that he’s under contract until 2024, and that he might be the best reliever on the current roster. Because of those facts, don’t be surprised if Urias remains in a Dodger uniform in the future.
Urias not only broke the hearts of Dodgers fans with his actions on Monday night, but also the victims of domestic violence across the continent. Now, as the details unfold, his future with the organization relies solely on the hearts of the team’s executive hierarchy.