Posted on December 15, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Simple assault charges filed last month against New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia have been dropped. Familia was in court Thursday in Fort Lee, New Jersey when he learned that the state was dropping its case against him. Prior to Thursday’s court date, Familia’s wife, Bianca, the alleged victim in the incident, met with prosecutor Arthur Balsamo and asked that no charges be pursued. Balsamo obliged and so Familia will not face any legal consequences. However, Major League Baseball will do its own investigation and may levy its own punishment against Familia.
Familia was arrested after neighbors reported a heated argument between him and his wife on Halloween night. After police were called to the apartment Familia shares with his wife and their infant son, he was arrested and charged with simple assault. Investigators found a bruise on Bianca’s right cheek and a scratch on her chest, giving them probably cause to arrest Familia for domestic violence.
During court proceedings on Thursday, Balsamo said that the scratch and bruise on Bianca that prompted the arrest of Familia can be explained for reasons that are unrelated to domestic violence. Between that and Bianca asking for the prosecution to drop the case, it’s not surprising that charges have been dropped. The judge in the case also started referring to Bianca as a witness in the case, not a victim.
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However, the legal charges being dropped does not mean that Familia will avoid a suspension from MLB. Several other players, including Familia’s teammate with the Mets, Jose Reyes, have had their domestic violence charges dropped only to receive a punishment from the commissioner’s office. Now that the legal matter is official closed, MLB will likely begin its investigation into the incident. There’s no known timetable for such an investigation, but it could take weeks or months for the league to make a decision.
Since Familia’s arrest, the Mets have acknowledged that he’s likely to be suspended for a portion of the 2017 season. Considering MLB’s desire to crack down on domestic violence and the league’s history of suspending players like Reyes and Aroldis Chapman following domestic violence incidents, it’s a safe bet that Familia will not be available at the start of the 2017 season. However, unlike those who serve suspensions for PED use, Familia would still be eligible for the postseason next year even if he’s suspended during the regular season.
Even knowing that Familia is facing a suspension, the Mets have not been linked to any of the high-profile closers on the free agent or trade markets this offseason. New York is banking on Addison Reed to step in as the team’s closer if Familia misses time. The Mets have not made any additions to their bullpen this winter, and they are poised to lose Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas in free agency, but adding relief help does appear to be on their to-do list.
As for Familia, he is no doubt relieved to have the charges dropped but undoubtedly ashamed that he put himself in this position. He now awaits one more investigation and any punishment MLB believes is appropriate following his arrest last month.