MLB, union to meet this month on domestic violence policy

Officials from Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are scheduled to meet multiple times in January regarding a new domestic violence policy. The league and union have discussed parameters of a disciplinary program for several months already, and sources familiar with the process say the parties are likely to formally announce the new protocols before spring training begins.

The union membership is strongly behind the idea of establishing a policy on the issue, but it’s not clear yet what form the discipline will take.

The NFL’s policy, announced amid intense scrutiny in August after Ray Rice assaulted his then-fiancee, stipulates a six-game suspension without pay for a first offense. That equates to 60 games over a 162-game baseball season. The current punishment for a first offense of baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy is 80 games.

One key consideration is whether baseball’s new program would permit the commissioner’s office to discipline a player if a court case connected to the domestic incident remains pending.

Under baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement — which went into effect with the 2012 season — domestic-violence matters are handled through a treatment program administered jointly by MLB and the MLBPA. According to the agreement, the treatment board is "responsible for creating and supervising individualized treatment programs for Players with an alcohol use problem or Players who have engaged in off-field violent conduct," including domestic violence.