Before I start, I want to note this is completely speculation based on the reports that have surrounded the Dodgers’ involvement in trade negotiations with the Cincinnati Reds for Aroldis Chapman. I cannot stress this strongly enough.
So, with that said, let’s try to figure out what all went on in the negotiations and what factors weighed most heavily in the Dodgers’ decision to move on.
First and foremost, the public relations hit the Dodgers would’ve taken cannot be ignored. Even if Chapman isn’t suspended by the league, the details of his allegedly “choking” his girlfriend and firing gunshots in his garage while she hid in the bushes are pretty tough to explain to the fan base.
This isn’t a male-female issue, either. I can’t lie, I recoiled while I read the alleged details in the police report. Trading for Chapman would alienate a huge portion of the fan base, who considers athletes role models as well as athletic entertainment.
Please, do not point to how no charges were filed initially. This isn’t out of the ordinary in cases like these. The victims find themselves afraid of further action from their spouse should they press charges and all too often pass on the opportunity to release themselves from a violent situation. Those actions are well-documented by anyone who’s studied domestic violence. It’s really a depressing cycle victims fall into.
So, the Dodgers appear to have done their due diligence, ran their own background investigation given the facts at their disposal and decided even Chapman’s incredible talent isn’t worth the controversy they would stir up by giving up assets to acquire someone accused of such ugly details.
Someone else very well could trade for Chapman, but the Dodgers have apparently decided the hit to the organization’s image is not worth whatever leverage they might have in negotiations.
Speaking of which…
Something seems incredibly off regarding how the Reds have handled Chapman. The Boston Red Sox reportedly ran a background check on Chapman and, upon finding these allegations, moved on to make a deal for Craig Kimbrel. The question the bears asking, then, is whether the Red Sox gave a reason to the Reds as to why they moved on.
The first and less-damning answer is that, no, the Red Sox never mentioned anything and simply moved on. This is possible, but if I was in an open negotiation and the other party simply moved on, I’d probably ask why.
If the Red Sox mentioned anything about this situation, making the Reds aware of what might’ve gone on, either the Reds organization sat idly by and hoped nothing would ever go public or ran their own background search, found out some more details and, again, hoped it would not go public.
Roger Goodell would be so proud of these Cincinnati Reds.
Now, the Dodgers might be doing the Reds a favor in moving on completely without asking questions or filing any kind of grievance. Without such action, the league has no impetus to look deeper into what the heck is going on in the Reds organization. Given the state of controversy surrounding domestic violence, Commissioner Rob Manfred might feel pressured to take a closer look on his own doing as you know, it’s kind of his job and all.
At the end of all this speculation the question becomes what happens next? Well, we already know how the Dodgers are handling this. Unfortunately, we kind of know what the Reds are about, too. The last piece of the puzzle is what might be next for Chapman, himself.
MLB is investigating the case and will make some decision as to his immediate playing future. The verbiage in the domestic violence policy makes it tough to see a suspension coming. Manfred needs a conviction to suspend a player. Allegations on their own, without charges even having been filed, tie Manfred’s hands.
Sure, he could pull a Goodell and suspend Chapman (and even Yasiel Puig) outside of the mutually agreed upon system, but any suspension would be appealed by the Players Union and both Chapman and Puig would probably get off. Manfred would then look overly ambitious and set an ugly precedent for dealing with these cases moving forward.
While Chapman’s alleged (and that’s a key word) actions are undeniably ugly, chances are, he’ll pitch again either in Cincinnati or for another franchise that considers his talent worth the PR hit. Heck, even the Dodgers might come back and revisit the deal later in the season or sign Chapman outright as a free agent next offseason.
This is, quite unfortunately, the balance that must be struck with talented individuals lacking in other facets like morality and maturity. It’s why Yasiel Puig is still on the roster as of 10:45 on December 10 (though it is worth noting the details surrounding Puig’s incident are far less-damning). He’s simply too good to cast aside solely because of alleged actions that even the victim denies occurred. It’s why Greg Hardy is employed by the Dallas Cowboys. It’s why Aroldis Chapman will remain in MLB.
For now, though, I can’t help but feel proud of the Dodgers organization for taking the stance as of right now, that they won’t go out of their way to acquire someone with such question marks. This by no means is me claiming the Dodgers definitely would not have at least kept the deal on hold if some leverage could be gained in all this. There’s simply no way to know that for sure given the information we have right now.
Given the information we have, though, some really awkward questions can be asked of the Cincinnati Reds. No, we don’t know that they knew about the allegations. We can’t even act like they’d be alone in covering up for morally questionable athletes. They’d fall in a long line of organizations that have done so before.
I guess it just feels good to know the Dodgers didn’t use a lack of accountability as an excuse to fall in line with those such organizations. At least in this instance.