Aroldis Chapman suspension delivers right message

Thirty games is the right fit for all parties.

Aroldis Chapman will sit for 30 days and lose $2 million in salary.

Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

This is a win.

A win for commissioner Rob Manfred, who issued a 30-game suspension to Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman in his first act under baseball's new joint domestic-violence policy.

A win for the players’ union, which persuaded Chapman to drop his plans to appeal, helping avoid a messy confrontation with the commissioner’s office in arbitration.

Finally — and most importantly — it is a win for a sport trying to send the proper message on domestic violence.

Chapman, 28, was accused of choking his girlfriend, but not charged with a crime during an incident Oct. 30 at his home in Davie, Florida. However, he acknowledged that he fired eight gunshots in his garage while his girlfriend hid in the bushes outside, according to the police report.

Manfred said in a statement, "I found Mr. Chapman's acknowledged conduct on that day to be inappropriate under the negotiated policy, particularly his use of a firearm and the impact of that behavior on his partner."

Chapman, in his own statement, said, "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."

Manfred was in a tricky spot — some question whether it is proper for a professional sports league to punish players who are not prosecuted under the law. The policy, though, permits the commissioner to impose discipline even if a player is not charged, with no maximum or minimum penalty.

The question for Manfred, then, was how far to go.

A suspension of, say 15 games, would have appeared too lenient. A suspension of, say 60 games, likely would have been viewed as overreaching, and knocked down by an arbitration panel.

Meanwhile, a suspension of 45 games or more would have prevented Chapman from attaining the service time necessary to become a free agent at the end of the season, effectively rewarding the Yankees by enabling them to keep him for another year.

Chapman, if he had followed through on his pledge to appeal, surely would have faced a longer suspension and jeopardized his free agency. He could not risk an arbitration panel ruling against him. In the end, he had to back down.

The union said in a statement that it “remains committed to protecting and ensuring the rights granted to players” under the policy. But the fact that Chapman declined to appeal clearly indicates that the union did not believe that the player’s rights were violated — or that they were not violated enough for the union to adopt a position that some would have viewed as insensitive.

The NFL looked ham-handed in its handling of the Ray Rice and Greg Hardy cases. It will be a shock if baseball's decision — its first, precedent-setting decision — is viewed in the same way.

Chapman will miss almost 20 percent of the season and forfeit almost $2 million in salary. The Rockies' Jose Reyes, who was arrested for domestic abuse and faces trial in April, is in line for a much harsher penalty.

Baseball sent a message. Baseball got it right.

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