Josh Hamilton’s fate is in the hands of an arbitrator, report Bill Shaikin and Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times, after a four-person panel was unable to come to an agreement on the course of treatment after the outfielder’s recent relapse with substance abuse. The panel, made up of a league-appointed doctor, a league-appointed lawyer, an MLBPA-appointed doctor and an MLBPA-appointed lawyer, split their vote down the middle, per the L.A. Time duo. As such, an arbitrator will break the tie.
As MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez wrote earlier today, Hamilton was on the Rays’ 40-man roster for his first violation, so he is considered a multiple offender. (The Times duo notes that it is unclear how many of the “at least six drug tests” failed by Hamilton when with the Rays occurred whilst on the 40-man roster.) A first-time offender could be suspended for 15-25 games, a second-time offender for 25-50, a third-time offender for 50-75 and a fourth-time offender for a full season.
Per DiGiovanna and Shaikin, MLB is deciding whether or not to rule Hamilton as a fourth-time offender. That would mean that Hamilton could miss a whole season and forfeit the entirety of his $25MM salary. However, If Hamilton is ruled to enter a rehabilitation program, he’ll earn his full salary for 30 days and half his salary for the following 30 days, per the Times. That would come out to a bit less than $6.2MM.
Commissioner Rob Manfred would have final say on the length of any suspension for Hamilton. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark told both Gonzalez and the L.A. Times pairing that it is the Union’s “responsibility to protect the player and his rights in the process.” However, Clark voiced far more concern for Hamilton as a person than as a baseball player. “What I hope for is support for Josh. There are always baseball concerns. There are, more importantly, life concerns. We have protocols in place to handle the baseball-related issues. But I’m hopeful that anyone in the baseball family who finds himself in a tough spot gets support as a person beyond baseball.”