In a move that has made waves in the sports world, Major League Baseball (MLB) has placed Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias on indefinite administrative leave following his recent arrest. The arrest occurred on suspicion of causing bodily injury to his spouse or significant other. In a climate increasingly aware of the implications of domestic violence, this action by MLB serves as a significant step under the league's domestic violence rule book, a joint initiative between the league and the ballplayers' union established in 2015.
Urias was arrested by Department of Public Safety officers at Exposition Park, located just south of downtown Los Angeles. For context, this park is also home to BMO Stadium, where soccer legend Lionel Messi recently played an MLS game attended by numerous celebrities. The legal violation Urias is accused of falls under Penal Code 273.5, which specifically addresses corporal injury to a spouse or partner. To be charged under this law, the injury must have been intentionally caused by physical force, and it is considered a felony.
While no details about the arrest have been released, the Department of Public Safety has called upon witnesses to share information. Urias has since posted a $50,000 bail and is due in court on September 27.
A Pattern of Concern
This is not Urias's first run-in with domestic violence allegations. The 27-year-old left-handed pitcher from Culiacán, Mexico, was previously arrested in May 2019 for a similar offense. While formal charges were not filed at that time, Urias was suspended for 20 games by MLB and was required to complete a 52-week gender violence prevention program as a condition for the charges being dropped.
Urias is not the only star player under investigation; the spotlight is widening. Wander Franco, a Dominican shortstop for the Tampa Bay Rays, was recently suspended with pay while authorities in his home country investigate allegations involving an underage girl.
Moreover, Urias's case brings to mind the Trevor Bauer incident. Bauer, a former Dodgers pitcher, was placed on administrative leave in July 2021 following assault allegations. Though Bauer denied the claims, he was suspended for 324 games in April 2022, which was later reduced to 194 games upon appeal. Bauer has since been released by the Dodgers and now plays for a professional baseball team in Japan. Yet, the Dodgers are still on the hook for his $22.5 million 2023 salary.
Other notable players who have been sanctioned for violating MLB's domestic violence rules include Aroldis Chapman, Domingo German, Addison Russell, Roberto Osuna, Jose Reyes, and Hector Olivera.
What's Next for Urias and the Dodgers?
As for Urias's immediate future, it is unclear when or if he will return to the Dodgers lineup. He was scheduled to make his next start this Thursday, but the team has yet to announce a replacement. Urias is currently not with the team, which is in Miami for a three-game series against the Marlins.
The legal proceedings and MLB's final decision will have a far-reaching impact, not just on Urias's career, but also on how sports leagues handle domestic violence issues. With increased scrutiny, MLB, among other sports organizations, will need to continue taking strong stances to ensure the safety and well-being of all individuals involved.
For now, all eyes are on the court date set for September 27. Will Urias join the ranks of players who have faced serious repercussions for their actions off the field? Only time will tell, but what is clear is that these issues are larger than the sport itself, reflecting societal concerns that cannot and should not be ignored.