HOUSTON—The Astros get to keep their starting first baseman for the rest of the World Series.
Commission Rob Manfred announced Saturday that Yuli Gurriel will be suspended without pay for the first five games of the 2018 season, but will remain eligible the rest of this postseason. Television cameras caught Gurriel mocking Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish’s Asian heritage and using a Spanish-language slur for Asian peoples during Game Three in the Astros dugout. Manfred met with Gurriel prior to Game Four before issuing a ruling on his suspension.
“There is complete unanimity—me, my office, both owners, both clubs and the MLBPA—that there is no place in our game for the behavior or any behavior like the behavior we witnessed last night,” Manfred said. “There is no excuse or explanation that makes that type of behavior acceptable.
“Mr. Gurriel, to his credit, quickly realized last night that his behavior was wrong. He expressed remorse. I met with him today. He reiterated that remorse and he has assured me that he will be offering a private apology to Mr. Darvish.”
Gurriel will be required to undergo sensitivity training during the offseason in addition to his suspension, and the Astros will donate his forfeited salary to charity.
Manfred cited four reasons for suspending Gurriel at the start of the 2018 season rather than during the World Series: ensuring the suspension would carry with it the penalty of lost salary, not wanting the suspension to affect the other 24 members of the Astros roster—“I wanted the burden of the discipline to fall primarily on the wrongdoer,” Manfred said—a stated desire from Darvish to move forward, and allowing Gurriel the opportunity to exercise his right to appeal.
Gurriel issued a statement through the team.
“During last night’s game, I made an offensive gesture that was indefensible,” he said. “I sincerely apologize to everyone that I offended with my actions. I deeply regret it. I would particularly like to apologize to Yu Darvish, a pitcher that I admire and respect. I would also like to apologize to the Dodgers organization, the Astros, Major League Baseball and to all fans across the game.”
The MLBPA later released a statement saying Gurriel will not appeal his suspension.
Gurriel, 33, signed a five-year $47.5 million contract with the Astros last year after a decorated career in Cuba. He also played in Japan in 2014. The Dodgers, ironically enough, were one of the teams that held a private workout for Gurriel before he signed with the Astros.
He ranked as the Astros’ No. 8 prospect entering the 2017 season and hit .299 with 43 doubles, 18 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .817 OPS, in addition to .340 with six doubles and a home run in the postseason.
Manfred, when pressed on why Gurriel would not be suspended for any World Series games, noted that a five-game suspension went beyond the previous precedent of a two-or-three game suspension for similar offenses and acknowledged the timing of the incident was a factor.
“There is no question that it is a difficult decision as to when the appropriate timing was,” Manfred said. “Obviously World Series games are different than regular-season games. And I used my best judgment as to where the appropriate disciplinary level fell.”