The Tampa Bay Rays catcher could face a fine and/or suspension pending the results of an MLB investigation into allegations of emotional and physical abuse by his former fiancée.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reported on Tuesday that an official with MLB informed him that the league office is investigating the allegations of abuse by Kristen Eck, who had been identified as being engaged to Norris in a 2015 interview.
That information collaborates with an Instagram post made by Eck. The post alleges emotional and physical abuse by an unidentified man, but the time frame she identifies is in sync with the established time frame of the relationship. The post further explains that she left the home she shared with the man, she had only $300 in cash and the personal belongings she brought into the home with her. Eck also states that the man in the post and his family ensured that she was left with nothing.
It’s unclear whether Eck has made any criminal complaints against Norris, and no criminal investigation into Norris’ conduct in the relationship has been announced by any possible prosecuting bodies. That doesn’t matter as far as Norris’ career is concerned, however.
The recently-negotiated domestic violence policy that is part of the current collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the MLBPA gives the commissioner power to penalize players for domestic issues regardless of whether players are convicted of any criminal charges. Furthermore, the players don’t even have to be charged with any criminal activity or the subject of an official criminal investigation in order for Rob Manfred to act. Put plainly, even if Eck never files any criminal complaints, Norris could still be fined and/or suspended.
MLB has no legal authority to compel anyone to share any information with it, so much of the investigation will depend on the cooperation of the persons of interest. Norris’ compliance to an extent is a strong possibility, as non-compliance could affect the future of his baseball career.
Even if MLB fails to produce any evidence that it determines is significant enough to fine and/or suspend Norris or determines that Norris isn’t guilty of any misconduct fitting the domestic violence policy, MLB is aware of the culture surrounding these allegations and thus takes every allegation seriously. Whether that will result in lost time on the field and money for Norris remains to be seen.