It should be said at the top that it’s not clear that there’s too much the Chicago White Sox could have done before signing Mike Clevinger. It’s easy to say that they should have known, and maybe if a team was really looking for reasons to not sign someone they could have found the investigation by MLB into accusations of domestic abuse levied against him by Olivia Finestead. (Clevinger’s lawyer said in a statement that the pitcher “emphatically denies” the allegations.) But a team pursuing a player in free agency isn’t really looking for reasons to not sign that player. It’s just how far you take that.
But when MLB conducts these types of investigations, they likely don’t announce to everyone, or anyone, at least with the cover story of not wanting to poison the investigation. Clevinger himself may not tell you, and certainly, no one at the time of his signing was waving any giant red flag. Though it was curious how quickly it came together, no one was saying this was on the horizon.
Yes, Clevinger has already proven to be a dingus before. He broke COVID protocols while with Cleveland in 2020, and his teammates essentially voted him off the island. Still, that’s something of a distance from that to this. MLB should have tried to subtly put the word out to clubs, but without the investigation being concluded the players’ union would not have looked kindly on the league spreading the word that would have kept a member from signing a contract before they had anything concrete with which to do so.
It is certainly worth asking if the investigation was started this summer, and we’re some four or five months past that at least, what exactly is taking so long and why Clevinger was available on the free agent market in the first place. What is MLB waiting for? Did Finestead show them the same Instagram photos she shared yesterday? These things taking this long have put one of its teams in an impossible spot. Perhaps a rule that any player under investigation for domestic abuse or sexual assault should be put on ice until the investigation is complete, but that’s another thing that would have to be negotiated with the union and wouldn’t be that easy to pass.
It’s doubly bad for the White Sox and especially their fans, as the latter just had to live through Hall of Famer baseball person Tony La Russa getting to skate on a DUI charge — he pled out to a misdemeanor offense — because owner Jerry Reinsdorf was just that determined to have him as manager, even though the Sox knew about the DUI before the public did. And now they’re stuck with this, for however long it takes before the Sox can deposit Clevinger into the nearest dumpster.
Which you have to think they will as soon as they can, which is whenever this investigation is over. Should they do so before Clevinger will likely still get his money, and while it almost certainly isn’t morality that would dictate the Sox trying to get out of his contract, everyone can probably agree that it would be better if Clevinger is tossed overboard without the cash coming to him.
But it is still an awfully awkward look, if we’re being kind, that this is happening in the same offseason when not one but two teams backed out of agreed contracts with Carlos Correa because of what they felt might happen to his ankle six or seven or more years down the line, and yet Clevinger got a contract with this in his past. There is an instinct that teams should do the same diligence that NFL teams do over draft picks, but any familiarity with domestic abusers would tell you how that could turn out awful in a hurry if a past partner simply told a prospective team about past abuse and cost a player a contract. That’s not the best way either.
But MLB should figure out something with a player under active investigation because everyone looks bad here. That is if Rob Manfred ever cared about how any of his teams looked.
Meanwhile, on the other side of baseball, if Ronald Acuña Jr. did this on these shores how many baseballs would be thrown at him simultaneously in his next at-bat? 70? We’re just doing it wrong, man:
It’s a light midweek in the soccer world, but that doesn’t mean Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich couldn’t provide us with a true Thunderbastard. From the parking lot: