Every year baseball’s winter meetings usher in a flurry of off-season activity punctuated by blockbuster trades and massive free-agent contracts. It's a time of great optimism, when the sting of disappointing seasons gives way to optimism for the year ahead. But this year’s meeting has gotten off to an uncharacteristically sour start with a supposedly done deal going up in flames as reports surfaced that the key player was recently in a domestic violence dispute.
But then the Dodgers learned what Chapman did on October 30. The allegations are laid out in a police report obtained by Yahoo news. Chapman, the report says, got into an argument with his girlfriend after a party at his house in Miami. She says the 27-year-old Cuban pitcher "choked" her and pushed her up against a wall.
Once the couple was separated, the report says Chapman went into his garage with a handgun and fired eight rounds into a concrete wall and out a window. The report says Chapman’s girlfriend fled the house and hid in the bushes while the police were en route. There were no arrests made and charges were not filed “due to conflicting stories, no cooperating witnesses, and no physical injuries.”
So why would the Dodgers back away from the deal if Chapman wasn't charged? From a business perspective, Chapman only has one year left on his contract and given MLB’s new domestic violence policy, he could face suspension in the upcoming season. When you’re trading for one year of a player, you don’t want that year to be shortened by suspension.
From a personnel perspective, inviting Chapman into the clubhouse after learning about the allegations invites public scrutiny. Consider the Cowboys, who won’t, and shouldn’t, hear the end of it for running Greg Hardy's image rehabilitation campaign. The story is obviously different here, but the public's reaction could be the same.
For now, Chapman remains a member of the Reds. The Dodgers, at last notice, were debating how to proceed with the trade. And the winter meetings, without another trade to gawk at or contract to scrutinize, remain marred by this ugliness.
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