Nick Francona, the son of Indians manager Terry Francona, has accused the Dodgers of discrimination, alleging they unjustly fired him after he visited a charity that treats veterans for so-called “invisible wounds of war.”
According to multiple reports, Francona, a Marine Corps veteran of the war in Afghanistan, complained in a letter to Major League Baseball that the Dodgers terminated his contract as assistant director of player development over an assessment he received at Home Base, a Boston-area organization.
Francona, 31, has twice turned away settlement offers since his firing in March 2016 — for $40,000 and $150,000 — and an MLB investigation is reportedly ongoing and expected to be completed within a week.
“While I don’t expect that speaking out on these issues will be universally popular within baseball circles, these issues are far too important to remain silent,” Francona told Yahoo! Sports. “I am grateful that my family and friends urged me to stand up for the principles at stake rather than accept an offer of money in exchange for my silence. I believe strongly that the people involved need to be held accountable for their actions.”
The Dodgers deny the allegation.
“The Dodgers cannot comment on the specific facts or reasons leading to a former employee’s departure from the organization,” the team said in a statement. “However, we can categorically state that Nick Francona’s departure was not the result of any type of discrimination, and it certainly was not the result of his being a veteran. This was confirmed by an investigation conducted by independent outside counsel. The Dodgers have the utmost admiration and respect for all of the men and women who serve or have served in the armed forces, and we are very proud of the veterans whom we employ.”
Dodgers staffers have told MLB investigators, according to the Yahoo! Sports report, that Francona’s issues with the team stemmed from a personality conflict with his boss, director of player development Gabe Kapler, and not lingering problems he had as a result of his Marine Corps service. Francona, a graduate of Wharton School of Business before he joined the Marines as an officer in 2009, otherwise received high marks for his work with the Dodgers.
“If I needed something done, I would call Nick and it would be done,” former Dodgers pitching coordinator Rick Knapp told Yahoo! Sports.
Francona’s exit came after he declined a reassignment to the Dodgers’ research-and-development department, which he viewed was a demotion, Yahoo! Sports reported. He was then given the choice to resign or be fired, and he chose termination, after which the Dodgers paid a remaining year of his two-year contract.