Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes is currently scheduled to stand trial in April after pleading not guilty to charges of domestic abuse stemming from an incident in Hawaii on Halloween day last year, Christian Red of the New York Daily News reports. That’s the same date that Colorado is scheduled to open the 2016 season in Arizona.
The local prosecutor, Kerry Glen, said he would not rule out a plea deal between now and the start of the trial, though he gave no indication of the likelihood of such a scenario. “If I find that acceptable, we would enter into that agreement,” said Glen. “There is always potential for additional negotiation between now and then.”
Needless to say, the charges themselves appear appropriately serious given the accusations against Reyes. It certainly seems that he faces a realistic prospect of jail time if convicted, though the precise counts being pursued are not immediately clear from the article.
But there are quite significant additional considerations at play beyond the immediate criminal matter. According to the Daily News, it is not known whether Reyes — a native of the Dominican Republic — ever completed a reported effort to gain U.S. citizenship.
If he is not presently an American citizen, there certainly could be serious immigration repercussions in the event that he pleads guilty or is convicted. There are a wide variety of considerations that would go into just what could occur on the immigration side of things, but that does indeed appear to be a serious matter.
Senior MLBTR readers will no doubt recall that there have been several recent instances where players’ careers and personal lives were heavily impacted by immigration difficulties. Without intending any direct comparisons, the cases of Roberto Hernandez and Juan Carlos Oviedo (both of which involved the use of false identifies) involved contract disruptions and lengthy holds on their playing careers, though both were ultimately able to return. (To get a sense of how things played out in those cases, you can review the old tags for their assumed identities: Fausto Carmona and Leo Nunez.)
To be sure, the least important matters at issue here are the impact on the baseball season that lies ahead and Reyes’s contract status with the Rockies. But there are obviously real implications here from that perspective for both team and player. If nothing else, the trial date presents a self-evident conflict, as would any hypothetical prison time. And recent reports have been somewhat unclear as to the league’s timeline for deciding upon its own disciplinary action (if any), with suggestions that the commissioner will act before the season (if not Spring Training, too) but also that there’s an apparent preference to first allow the legal process to conclude.