Major League Baseball has announced that free-agent catcher Derek Norris has been placed on the restricted list for the remainder of the season. The league says that it issued its decision “based on the results of” an investigation under the domestic violence policy; commissioner Rob Manfred did not otherwise explain the result except to state that he determined that Norris’s “conduct warranted discipline.”
Norris will not appeal, per the announcement, and will be eligible again to sign a contract after the conclusion of the current season. The 28-year-old was released earlier this year by the Rays and had not signed with another organization since. Norris will also lose the right to collect $100K of salary he was still due from Tampa Bay; the organization will instead donate that sum “to one or more charitable organizations focused on preventing and treating survivors of domestic violence,” per Manfred’s statement.
The league commenced an investigation into Norris after his one-time fiancee, Kristen Eck, accused him publicly of physical and emotional abuse. Norris denied that he had committed the alleged actions. It does not appear that Eck pursued criminal charges, but detailed her allegations (as Topkin wrote earlier this summer) and seemingly agreed to cooperate with MLB’s investigation.
The joint MLB-MLBPA domestic violence policy vests the power to investigate, assess culpability, and issue punishment in the commissioner. That authority is not contingent upon any actions by public authorities and does not require a criminal conviction.
Norris had struggled on the field this year prior to losing his job with the Rays in late June. Still, as an experienced major league backstop, he might well have had an opportunity to join a roster for the month of September were it not for today’s decision (along with whatever underlying facts the league was able to ascertain). Of course, today’s decision could well also have an impact on his future prospects in the game.