By Dan Schlossberg
What is it with these guys anyway? First it was Trevor Bauer, who signed a nine-figure deal, then frittered away his career by violating Major League Baseball’s strict policy on domestic and sexual violence.
Now it’s Julio Urías, another star-quality pitcher but now on administrative leave while MLB investigates similar charges — for the second time.
Do the Dodgers not do thorough background checks on these guys? And do the players themselves think they’re invulnerable, safe from fines, suspension, or even discovery?
In a statement that sounds eerily reminiscent of the one that followed the Bauer case, the team said, “The Dodgers take all allegations of the kind in this case very seriously, and we do not condone or excuse any acts of domestic violence. We are fully cooperating with MLB’s investigation and support MLB’s and the Commissioner’s enforcement of the policy.”
Urías will remain on administrative leave “until further notice,” per a statement from the league, under the domestic violence policy it jointly negotiated with the MLB Players Association.
For both Urías and the Dodgers, the timing couldn’t be worse.
The pitcher has a court date scheduled for Sept. 27, less than a week before the start of the playoffs. Obviously, his eligibility to pitch has come under serious jeopardy.
Asked about the star lefty, manager Dave Roberts said he didn’t know enough yet. “Obviously these are very serious circumstances,” he said. “I would expect it to take the time needed to make sure that the right actions are taken. So I don’t know how long it will take, but I think we’re expecting it to take some time.”
That means the case may extend well past the World Series — and into the beginning of free-agent season.
Urías, who currently earns more than $14 million per season, would have been one of the top left-handed pitchers available for any team to sign.
His eventual punishment — and it’s coming — won’t approach the record 324-game suspension (the equivalent of two full seasons) given to Bauer in April 2022. The most severe punishment handed out under the sport's domestic violence policy, it was later shortened by an arbitrator to 194 games, including time served.
But the pitcher, who once won a Cy Young Award, isn’t likely to return to the majors. He’s now pitching in Japan.
Urías, a 27-year-old Mexican, also faces a murky future. Since the current incident under investigation is his second, what team would risk signing him?
Yes, he’s a good pitcher, leading the National League in wins in 2021 and ERA in 2022, but he’s struggled this season.
Without Urías, Roberts will enter the playoffs with a huge hole in his rotation — especially since Walker Buehler’s planned September comeback from Tommy John surgery has been cancelled.
Three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, also a prospective free agent who has his own physical problems, is No. 1 but then what? Can a rookie named Bobby Miller show the same poise and promise in the playoffs that he did in the regular season?
Dodger fans are holding their breath.
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is the author of 41 baseball books, including The New Baseball Bible. Catch his byline in forbes.com, Memores & Dreams, Sports Collectors Digest, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, and other outlets. His email is email@example.com.