The Los Angeles Dodgers officially cut ties Friday with starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, the embattled former Cy Young Award winner who had previously been suspended in an unprecedented manner following allegations of sexual assault.
Bauer is set for assignment, which means the Dodgers have until 2 p.m. ET on Thursday to find a business partner. If they can’t, Bauer will be placed on unconditional release waivers. If he clears it, which is considered the most likely scenario, he will become a free agent the next day.
The Dodgers’ decision came two weeks after an independent arbitrator reduced Bauer’s suspension from 324 games to 194, immediately reinstating him but forfeiting his pay for the remaining 50 games to start the 2023 season. The referee fired the Dodgers 14 days to decide whether to add him to their 40-man roster.
They extended their decision to Friday’s deadline, finally choosing a path that had long been anticipated. The Dodgers are still on the hook for the $22.5 million Bauer is still due for the final season of his contract, but he’ll save $720,000, the major league minimum, if another team signs him on the open market.
“The Dodgers organization believes that allegations of sexual assault or domestic violence should be thoroughly investigated, subject to due process for the accused.” the team wrote in a lengthy statement Friday. “From the outset, we have cooperated fully with the Major League Baseball investigation and strictly followed the process set out in MLB’s Common Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Policy.
“Two extensive reviews of all the evidence available in this case – one after another [MLB] authorized [Rob] Manfred and another by a neutral arbitrator – they concluded that Mr. Bauer’s actions justified the longest active suspension of a player in our sport for violating this policy. Now that this process is complete, after careful consideration, we have decided that he will no longer be a part of our organization.”
The Dodgers had been widely expected to cut ties with Bauer for several months, but it surprised many in the industry, as well as their fans, at the length of time it took them to come to a decision. Part of the delay was due to him being initially caught off guard when the arbitrator announced his decision three days before Christmas. Sources said the team wasn’t expecting a decision until mid-January at the earliest.
But the drawn-out process only fueled outside speculation that the Dodgers might eventually bring Bauer back. Over the past week, sources said members of the front office have been in touch with the players in an attempt to gauge their interest in Bauer’s return. Then the team’s key decision makers met with Bauer in Arizona on Thursday, in what marked their first face-to-face interaction in 18 months.
In a statement, Bauer claimed that the Dodgers at that point expressed interest in making an offer to them in 2023 — a claim refuted by a team source familiar with the meeting.
“While we were unable to communicate throughout the administrative leave and arbitration process, my representatives spoke to Dodgers leadership immediately after the arbitration decision,” Bauer wrote in his statement. After two weeks of talks about my return to the organization, yesterday I sat down with the Dodgers leadership in Arizona who told me they wanted me to come back and pitch for the team this year.
“While I am disappointed with the organization’s decision today, I appreciate the great support I have received from the Dodgers club. I wish the players all the best and look forward to competing elsewhere.”
Bauer joined the Dodgers in February 2021 on a three-year, $102 million contract that included two walkouts — but has not played since June 28, 2021.
The next day, a 27-year-old San Diego woman filed for a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) alleging Bauer assaulted her over the course of two sexual encounters at his Pasadena, California, home in April and May, which led to an investigation. A prolonged career in MLB left Bauer on administrative leave for the remainder of that season.
Bauer, who has denied any wrongdoing each time, scored two legal victories in the aftermath, first when a Los Angeles judge denied the woman’s request for a permanent restraining order in August 2021, and then when the Los Angeles district attorney’s office refused to file criminal charges in February. 2022. But two other women made similar allegations to The Washington Post. Manfred, who has the autonomy to suspend players even if they are not charged with a crime, announced a 324-game ban for Bauer near the end of April, twice as long as the previous longest sentence under the domestic violence policy.
Martin Scheinman, the independent arbitrator retained by both MLB and the MLB Players Association, spent parts of the next eight months presiding over Bauer’s case, reviewing results and hearing testimony before determining that Bauer’s suspension would come down to 194 games, 144 of which were filed during the grievance process. . Sheinman essentially awarded Bauer credit for the time he served while on paid administrative leave throughout the second half of the 2021 season and promptly reinstated it, leaving the rest in the hands of the Dodgers.
The Dodgers’ initial statement—”We have just been informed of the arbitrator’s decision and will comment as soon as practicable”—was strikingly non-binding, and consistent with their approach over the past year and a half.
The Dodgers canceled Bauer’s scheduled night out and removed his merchandise from their stores shortly after MLB placed him on administrative leave. Team president Stan Kasten later sent an email to employees in August 2021, while the San Diego woman’s DVRO hearing was in progress, saying he was “deeply troubled by the allegations” against Bauer. Outside of that, the team has barely commented publicly. The sources said they are not currently planning in the near future.
According to the terms of the domestic violence policy, the Dodgers are not allowed access to the details of the MLB investigation or the reasons behind the umpire’s decision.
Bauer won UCLA’s Golden Spikes in 2011 and was the #3 pick in the MLB draft later that summer. He clashed with fellow Arizona Diamondbacks, led to a trade after his first full season, and was at the center of two infamous incidents in Cleveland, allegedly cutting his finger with a drone before the start of the 2016 playoff game and throwing a baseball over the center field fence. . After being removed from his outing on July 28, 2019, three days before he was traded again.
Bauer made a case for the Cy Young Award in 2018, then won it while with the Cincinnati Reds during the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season. The Dodgers, having claimed an elusive championship, signed him later in the offseason and beat the New York Mets despite rampant criticism about Bauer’s history of bullying others on social media. During Bauer’s introductory press conference, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman touted the organization’s culture and vetting process, adding that he believed Bauer had learned from past transgressions.
“And you know what, we’re all going to make mistakes,” Friedman said then. “What’s important to me…is how we absorb it, what our thoughts are on moving forward. From our perspective, it was important to have that conversation. And we came out of it feeling really good about it. Now, obviously, time will tell. But I feel it would be a massive plus.” Not just on the field but in the club, in the community, and that’s obviously why we’re sitting here.”
Bauer posted a 2.59 ERA in his first 17 starts, in which he was mostly an ace, before allegations of assault prompted his delisting. The team essentially replaced him with Max Scherzer for the rest of the 2021 season, riding another all-star roster to a 106-win regular season.
The following year, the Dodgers broke their franchise record by winning 111 games before being eliminated by the San Diego Padres in the National League Division Series. But Bauer’s presence loomed large in the postseason, as evidenced by the Dodgers’ perceived lethargy.
Top-level agents kept coming off the board, getting record contracts in the process, and the Dodgers—aware of going back below the luxury tax threshold and uncertainty about their pay while Bauer’s grievance process went through—mostly watched them pass.
Now, at least, the team can move on.
ESPN’s Jeff Bassan contributed to this story.
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