Updated May 30
Since Memorial Day, the Philly sports world has been buzzing over what local anti-violence experts are now referring to as the “Herrera incident.” That would be Phillies’ outfielder Odúbel Herrera, who was arrested for alleged domestic violence Monday night in Atlantic City.
The team is taking the allegations seriously. “It’s deeply disturbing,” manager Gabe Kapler told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s not something you want to be dealing with. I’m personally not feeling great about it right now.”
Per standing policy, Major League Baseball has opened an investigation. In advance of Herrera’s June 17 court date, domestic abuse advocates are hopeful that the situation will be handled with gravity and care.
“High profile cases such as this can have rippling effects on communities and society as a whole,” Katie Young-Wildes, spokesperson for Women Against Abuse, told Billy Penn. “Domestic violence is a threat to public health and safety, and should be treated as such.”
Here’s everything we know about the situation.
What happened at the casino?
Atlantic City police responded to the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino on Monday around 8:30 p.m. after being called there by security officials, according to a police report obtained by the Inquirer. When they arrived at the scene, cops found Herrera’s girlfriend with visible injuries — including hand prints on her neck.
The 20-year-old woman refused medical attention, and Herrera was arrested without incident, charged with simple assault and then released.
When Phillies officials learned about the incident on Tuesday morning, they said they immediately reported it to Major League Baseball. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred put Herrera on paid leave for at least seven days while he leads an independent investigation into the incident.
“It may take seven days, it may take 70 days. I don’t know,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak told the Inquirer. “I think we have to be prepared for anything.”
What are the longterm repercussions?
Depending on the results of the investigation, Manfred can suspend Herrera without pay for any number of games.
Earlier this month, Chicago Cubs infielder Addison Russel returned from his own 40-game domestic violence suspension (and got booed as he reentered the stadium).
There’s also the possibility that the Phillies could drop Herrera altogether — but they’d still be on the hook to pay out his contract. That’s roughly $24 million.
What’s the league policy, and when was it implemented?
The MLB established its domestic violence policy four years ago. It dictates that, when situations like this arise, most of the legwork is up to MLB’s commissioner.
When a team learns about an instance of domestic violence, sexual assault or child abuse, its management has to tell MLB right away. At that point, the MLB commissioner can put a player on paid leave for up to seven days to investigate — and then extend that leave if they need more time.
Following an investigation, the commissioner decides the appropriate action, with no minimum or maximum penalty officially outlined. Most of the time, players are slapped with an unpaid suspension. Since the policy’s been in place, the shortest suspension was 15 games, and the longest 100.
The commissioner’s office can also develop a mandatory treatment plan for players, including psychological evaluations, counseling sessions and relocation from a home shared with his partner.
At any point, players can challenge their penalty in front of an MLB-appointed arbitration board.
What did the Phillies say?
For the most part, Phillies officials have been directed to withhold comment while the investigation is ongoing.
Manager Gabe Kapler told reporters that Herrera is not allowed to return to the ballpark while he’s on administrative leave. GM Klentak said Herrera apologized over the phone.
The team reportedly cannot cut Herrera until the investigation is over — a protection enshrined in the players’ collective bargaining agreement.
What’s the Phillies history with this?
Since the 2015 policy went into effect, there haven’t been any Phillies players investigated for domestic violence.
But before that, in June of 2006, Phillies’ pitcher Brett Myers was arrested after he punched his wife in the face near Fenway Park. The consequences for Myers were slim — he played in a game against the Red Sox the very next day, and his wife went on to drop the charges.
Gabe Kapler has a history with the issue
Kapler has dealt with domestic violence and sexual assault situations in the past.
More than a decade ago, he founded an organization to fight domestic violence with his former wife, Lisa, who reportedly had been abused before the pair got together. A report in 2005 credited the Kaplers’ foundation with helping a Los Angeles battered women’s shelter.
The nonprofit, called the Gape Kapler Foundation, no longer appears to be active. It hasn’t filed IRS tax forms since 2008, and its website has been taken over by someone who can’t construct a coherent English sentence.
The foundation was not mentioned earlier this year when reports surfaced that Kapler had mishandled assault allegations from a teen-age girl when he was director of player development at the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Per a Washington Post report in February, a 17-year-old girl emailed Kapler in 2015 to tell him that a few Dodgers’ players had filmed her while women beat her up in a hotel room. Instead of calling the police, Kapler tried to schedule a dinner with the girl and the players in question to discuss the matter. Later, the same girl came forward saying one of the players had sexually assaulted her.
What’s next for Herrera?
Herrera’s got a court hearing scheduled for June 17. Meantime, all we can do is wait on an update from the MLB commissioner’s office.
If past penalties are any indication, we can probably expect an unpaid suspension for Herrera. With a pricey contract for the Phillies to pay out, some say it’s less likely he’ll get dropped altogether.
“That’s premature to speculate at this point,” said Phillies GM Matt Klentak. There’s not enough information about what happened.”