The Los Angeles Angels could face significant sanctions if Major League Baseball determines that team employees were told of Tyler Skaggs’ opioid use prior to his July 1 death and didn’t inform the commissioner’s office.
Eric Kay, currently on paid leave as the Angels’ communications director, told federal drug enforcement agents last month that two team employees, including his former supervisor, Tim Mead, were informed of Skaggs’ drug use but did not take action. Two sources familiar with the DEA investigation told Outside the Lines about Kay’s statements to federal agents, which Kay’s attorney, Michael Molfetta, then confirmed.
Under MLB policy, any team employee who isn’t a player is obligated to inform the commissioner’s office of “any evidence or reason to believe that a Player … has used, possessed or distributed any substance prohibited” by MLB.
The policy says commissioner Rob Manfred could fine the club up to $2 million, and it gives him discretion to suspend an employee or ban him or her from MLB for life. An MLB source told Outside the Lines that Manfred’s office never received such notification about Skaggs. MLB officials declined to comment.
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Despite Kay’s statements to federal agents, an Angels spokesperson said Saturday that the team was never aware of Skaggs’ drug use.
“We have never heard that any employee was providing illegal narcotics to any player, or that any player was seeking narcotics from him,” Angels spokesperson Marie Garvey said in Custom Los Angeles Angels Nike Jerseys a statement Tuesday. “The current and former employees that are being accused of knowing this behavior have categorically denied that assertion. The Angels maintain a strict, zero tolerance policy regarding the illicit use of drugs for both players and staff. Every one of our players must also abide by the MLB joint drug agreement.”
When asked why the statement doesn’t address that Kay, the team’s communications director, was an employee who knew of Skaggs’ use and didn’t report it to the league, Garvey declined further comment.
In addition to a potential ban from baseball, Kay could face criminal charges after admitting to authorities that he provided Skaggs with oxycodone for years and sometimes snorted crushed pills with the pitcher.
Skaggs was found dead in his Southlake, Texas, hotel room July 1, having asphyxiated on vomit. He was 27. An autopsy found oxycodone, fentanyl and alcohol in his system.
Kay’s addiction is long-standing, his family and attorney have said. His mother, Sandy, told Outside the Lines that her son started abusing opioids a few years after his father died in 1998.
Kay told DEA agents that in 2015, the two men worked out an arrangement in which Skaggs would give Kay money to buy oxycodone for both of them, and Kay would obtain pills from a dealer.
Kay told agents that he told Mead in 2017 that Skaggs used opioids. In addition, Kay told investigators about a second Angels official who knew of Skaggs’ use. Kay’s mother and his wife, Camela, told Outside the Lines that on April 22, while Eric was in the hospital following an overdose, he received a text from Skaggs seeking drugs. Sandy was visiting her son in the hospital at the time, alongside his wife and Mead. Sandy told Outside the Lines she saw the texts and told Mead that the team needed to intervene.
Mead left the team in June to become the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. He told Outside the Lines on Saturday that neither Eric Kay, his family nor anyone else ever told him that Skaggs used opioids.
A source familiar with MLB policy said that Manfred’s office has only media accounts to go on right now and will have to make a judgment as to whether Mead or Kay and his family are telling the truth. The source would not speculate on how much the Angels could be fined, but said it would be “more serious” if someone high up in the organization had been told.
The source said MLB is not currently conducting its own investigation and is instead waiting for the DEA to finish. The source also said Angels officials and attorneys are not sharing information with Manfred’s office because they are concerned that such communications could be subpoenaed by the government.