Julio Urías delivered the Dodgers’ most important pitch in the past 35 seasons. It was a called third strike, the one that clinched the 2020 World Series championship. Urías squatted and pumped his fists, then looked to the sky.
It was a high point for a player who had nearly squandered his chance with the Dodgers. A year and two months before the Dodgers won that championship, Urías was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor domestic battery. He was not charged with a crime, but he was suspended for 20 games for violating baseball’s policy on domestic violence.
On Sunday, Urías was arrested again, on suspicion of felony domestic violence. He has not been charged with a crime. The Dodgers are in Miami this week, but Urías is not with the team.
After his World Series win, Urías seemed the Dodgers’ heir to Fernando Valenzuela, a Mexican-born star for a team with a huge Latino fan base that stayed loyal to the Dodgers after Valenzuela’s retirement. Valenzuela retired as a legend, and this year the team retired his uniform number. The “34” never will grace the back of another Dodgers player.
Urías likely will depart the team in disgrace, and the “he could have owned the town” narrative should not overshadow the fact that he has been cited for acts of domestic violence twice within five years.
Questions and answers on where the Dodgers and Major League Baseball go from here:
Urías is not traveling with the team, but he has not been suspended. How does this make sense?
The next step would be for the league to put Urías on administrative leave, which could happen as soon as Wednesday. Under administrative leave, players continue to receive their salary, but they are removed from the team roster so the league can investigate.
The decision on a suspension would come after the investigation is concluded. Players are not paid while they are suspended.
How long could Urías remain on administrative leave?
The league can place a player on administrative leave for seven days, after which the players’ union must agree to any extensions. Former Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer was on administrative leave for the final three months of the 2021 season and the first month of the 2022 season.
In the absence of an agreement, the league could reinstate Urías while the investigatory and legal processes continue, let the Dodgers impose any discipline or place the player on paid suspension “pending resolution of a criminal or legal proceeding.” Those payments must be returned if the league ultimately issues a disciplinary suspension.
Urias is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 27.
Do police and the district attorney work with MLB?
Not necessarily. The criminal investigation and the league investigation are separate. The league would prefer to have information from the criminal investigation before deciding on a suspension, but the league cannot require that cooperation.
Under baseball’s policy, the commissioner is authorized to suspend a player for violating the policy even if the player is not charged with a crime. From the policy: “A single incident of abusive behavior … may subject a player to discipline.”
Bauer was investigated for sexual assault, but the Los Angeles County district attorney did not charge him with a crime. Bauer was nonetheless suspended from MLB for two seasons, a term reduced by an arbitrator to 194 games.
Can the Dodgers release Urías?
No. The policy negotiated between the league and the union forbids teams from acting unilaterally unless the player is unable to perform because he is injured, in court or in prison as a result of violating the policy.
If Urías was suspended 20 games for a first offense under the policy, how long might a suspension be for a second offense?
If a player tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs, the suspension is 80 games for a first offense and one season for a second offense. If a player tests positive for stimulants, the suspension is 50 games for a first offense and 100 games for a second offense.
In the policy governing domestic violence and sexual assault, however, no particular lengths are specified for suspensions. The league and the union, working with experts in domestic violence and sexual assault, wanted to tailor suspensions to the particular circumstances of each case, and to consider treatment and education as well as punishment for players subject to discipline.
Suspensions under the policy have ranged from 15 to 194 games. If the circumstances of Urías’ arrest this time are similar to the circumstances last time, it stands to reason a suspension for a second offense would be longer, but criminal and league investigations are ongoing.
A player can negotiate the length of a suspension if he agrees not to appeal. A player also can appeal the suspension to an arbitrator, as Bauer did.
The Dodgers start the playoffs next month. Would a suspension — or administrative leave — carry over to the playoffs?
And what would happen after the season?
Urías’ contract expires, and he becomes a free agent. Any team could sign him, but any suspension that extends into next season would have to be served before he could appear in a game.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.