A Los Angeles Angels public relations employee told federal investigators he supplied Tyler Skaggs with oxycodone, saw the pitcher snorting crushed opioids hours before his death, and knew that two team officials had been informed about Skaggs' drug use much earlier, sources told T.J. Quinn of ESPN's Outside the Lines.
The Angels denied any such knowledge Saturday, and MLB said it was not aware of the allegations.
Angels director of communications Eric Kay reportedly told U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigators he and Skaggs abused oxycodone together for years. Kay also named five other Angels players he believed used opiates while they were with the organization, sources said.
Kay's attorney confirmed to Quinn the details of Kay's statements to the DEA, but wouldn't allow his client to comment.
Skaggs died July 1 after choking on his own vomit in a Texas hotel room. An autopsy found fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his system, and the DEA opened an investigation into his death in mid-September.
The communications director reportedly told DEA agents he first mentioned Skaggs' drug use to Tim Mead, the former Angels vice president of communications, in 2017. In April 2019, as Kay recovered from a drug overdose in hospital, he said he received a text from Skaggs seeking drugs. Mead and Kay's mother were visiting Kay at the time. Kay's mother told Quinn she saw the texts from Skaggs and informed Mead the team needed to intervene. Kay also told the DEA another Angels official knew about Skaggs' drug use, sources said.
Under MLB's Joint Drug Agreement, any team official who becomes aware a player is abusing drugs must report it to the commissioner's office. However, no member of the Angels ever contacted the league, an anonymous MLB official told Quinn.
"I have had a lot of conversations with Eric Kay about a lot of things, but opioids and Tyler Skaggs were not one of them," Mead told Quinn. He said he was never aware the pitcher used opioids before his death.
The Angels also denied they were ever informed.
"We have never heard that any employee was providing illegal narcotics to any player, or that any player was seeking illegal narcotics," team president John Carpino said Saturday, according to Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times. "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."
Kay told investigators he would get drugs for both him and Skaggs, and Skaggs would pay for them, sources said. Kay reportedly said he gave Skaggs three oxycodone pills a day or two before the Angels headed to Texas on their road trip, but he doesn't believe those were the drugs Skaggs used the day he died because the pitcher would normally take them right away.
On the day of Skaggs' death, Kay saw the 27-year-old snort three lines of crushed opioids - two of which resembled oxycodone to Kay and one of which was a substance he couldn't identify, he reportedly told investigators. Kay reportedly said Skaggs offered him drugs, but he declined.
The Angels have placed Kay on paid leave as he undergoes outpatient treatment for substance abuse. Mead left the Angels in June and is now president of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.
"MLB was unaware of any of these allegations," a league spokesperson told Quinn. "MLB will fully cooperate with the government investigation and conduct its own investigation when the government investigation is completed."
After Skaggs' cause of death became public, his family said in a statement that they were "shocked to learn that it may involve an employee of the Los Angeles Angels."
The family's attorney, Rusty Hardin, spoke on their behalf Saturday: "They greatly appreciate the work that law enforcement is doing, and they are patiently awaiting the results of the investigation."