Major League Baseball suspended New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman 30 games Tuesday after he was under investigation for an alleged domestic violence incident in October.
Today, I accepted a 30-game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my actions on October 30, 2015. I want to be clear, I did not in any way harm my girlfriend that evening. However, I should have exercised better judgment with respect to certain actions, and for that I am sorry. The decision to accept a suspension, as opposed to appealing one, was made after careful consideration. I made this decision in an effort to minimize the distractions that an appeal would cause the Yankees, my new teammates and most importantly, my family. I have learned from this matter, and I look forward to being part of the Yankees' quest for a 28th World Series title. Out of respect for my teammates and my family, I will have no further comment.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred also provided a statement on the suspension, via MLB Communications:
Commissioner Manfred announced that A. Chapman has accepted a 30-game suspension w/o pay, effective Opening Day: pic.twitter.com/SrEaCTfei0— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) March 1, 2016
Citing police reports, Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown and Jeff Passan reported Dec. 7 that Chapman's girlfriend alleged he "choked" her and pushed her against a wall at his home near Miami on Oct. 30. Chapman then allegedly fired eight gunshots in his garage.
The state attorney's office in Broward County, Florida, declined to file charges against the four-time All-Star because of inconsistent and conflicting reports.
Speaking through a team translator Feb. 23, Chapman denied the charges and said he'd fight any possible suspension issued by the league, per Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News: "If it doesn't go my way, I'm just going to appeal; I haven't hurt anybody. In general, I never hurt anybody. Never in my life."
It appears Chapman had a change of heart.
The MLB Players Association provided a statement on the decision:
At the start of spring training, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he'd have to wait until he interacted with Chapman to render any judgment:
MLB and the MLBPA agreed to a joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child-abuse policy in August. The policy allows the commissioner to discipline a player as he sees fit and doesn't specify that the player must first face criminal charges.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post noted Chapman can't participate in minor league games during his suspension, so it's unclear whether he'll be ready to play immediately after the ban is lifted.
ESPN's Buster Olney argued last week that Manfred was in a difficult position:
A spring training penalty could actually backfire on MLB in the court of public opinion, leading to questions about whether the sport takes domestic violence as seriously as it does on-field incidents or amphetamine use; the great credit that the MLB Players Association and Manfred deserve for being proactive could be squandered.
It would be better for Manfred to limit suspensions to only regular-season games, no matter how many or how few. Players would take a three-game suspension in April far more seriously than a 20-game suspension in March, and so would fans. That could mean rendering a suspension that sounds short, like two or three games. It could mean a suspension that the player will challenge with an appeal, too.
The good news for Girardi is he already has a closer who can fill in for Chapman to start the regular season.
Andrew Miller recorded 36 saves in 38 chances and finished with a 2.04 ERA and 0.86 WHIP last year, so he shouldn't have any problem handling ninth-inning duties for as long as necessary. Girardi named Chapman his closer in January, though, so it's doubtful Miller will earn the job on a full-time basis no matter how well he performs.
With Miller and setup man Dellin Betances, who finished 2015 with a 1.50 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 84 innings, the Yankees will continue to have one of the most fearsome bullpens in all of baseball.