“The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that Baltimore Orioles pitcher Matt Harvey has received a 60-game suspension without pay for participating in the distribution of a prohibited Drug of Abuse in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” MLB released a brief statement.
“The start date of Harvey’s 60-game suspension is retroactive to April 29, 2022.”
Harvey was sentenced for his testimony during the trial of former Los Angeles Angels communications director Eric Kay in February. This trial was in connection with the death of Tyler Skaggs from a drug overdose in July 2019. In his testimony, Harvey admitted to providing Skaggs with opioids when they were teammates and discussed their drug use.
Kay was charged with two felonies of distributing fentanyl that led to Skaggs’ death. Eventually, he was proven accountable for the two felony charges of drug conspiracy and death by drug distribution.
“Once the trial is complete, MLB will conduct a comprehensive review of the potential violations of our drug program,” an MLB official said in the statement.
However, MLB may not be able to take further action until it comes to a new labor agreement with the players’ association. Unless he lied, Harvey cannot be prosecuted criminally for any statements he made in court, since the government granted him immunity to testify.
Harvey and Skaggs played together for the Angels in 2019. Years afterward, Harvey pitched for the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles. He has played for five different teams in the last four years. The most recent one was in 2021 when he started 28 games for the Orioles. He had a 6-14 record with a 6.27 ERA last season. In April 2022, he signed a minor-league deal with the Orioles.
Eric Kay’s trial
Five players testified during Kay’s trial and confessed that they used opioids, with Harvey being the only one who claimed he supplied them to Skaggs. Among the players who testified are Colorado Rockies’ C.J. Cron, Angels’ Mike Morin, and Philadelphia Phillies pitchers Cam Bedrosian and Blake Parker.
Although they admitted to using opioids, they said they had never distributed drugs to others. Individuals who use opioids for personal use are not automatically suspended, but those who distribute them are.
The players except Parker said Skaggs brought them to Kay and told them he could supply them with oxycodone. Parker said he didn’t remember who referred Kay to him. The players continued talking about Kay putting pills in their lockers sometimes, or how some of them swallowed or snorted the pills in the clubhouse.
MLB’s drug policy does not penalize players unless they have previously violated it. In contrast to players who take performance-enhancing drugs, players who use drugs such as opioids and cocaine will be sent to an evaluation treatment board following their first offense.
The verdict of Kay’s trial was declared shortly after closing arguments were concluded in the courtroom on Thursday, February 17. As a result of the eight-day trial, jurors concluded that the government met its burden of proving that Kay supplied Skaggs with the pills that led to the pitcher’s death in 2019, that fentanyl caused his death, and that Kay likely supplied the drugs in Texas.
Kay has been taken into custody and faces at least 20 years in federal prison. His sentencing will take place on June 28, 2022.