Thank you, Major League Baseball.
See ya, Trevor Bauer.
One of the darkest sagas in Dodgers history took a historic step toward closure Friday when baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred finally left the dugout and did the right thing.
He yanked Bauer off the mound for two seasons and hopefully out of a Dodgers uniform forever.
In a record-setting penalty for violating the league’s sexual assault and domestic violence policy, Bauer was suspended for 324 games, or roughly the time remaining on his Dodgers contract.
How convinced was MLB that its investigation proved his guilt? The penalty is one year longer than any other previous suspension for the policy violation. It was announced on a day when the Washington Post reported the existence of a third woman accusing Bauer of sexual assault.
Bauer will appeal, and that suspension could be reduced, meaning he could still theoretically return to the team, thus there is still a bit of unfinished business here.
Dodgers, it’s your turn. Now that MLB has spoken, it’s time for you to stand up and be heard.
Say it. Just say it. Officially, finally, forcefully say that Trevor Bauer will never pitch for the Dodgers again.
He’s been formally benched without pay. For now, you’re off the hook for $60.5 million. The results of baseball’s probe are apparently so damning that you could never bring him back now even if he wins his appeal. So why not just say it?
They still won’t say it.
The Dodgers issued a statement condemning Bauer’s alleged actions Friday, but again stopped short of formally firing him.
“The Dodgers organization takes all allegations of this nature very seriously and does not condone or excuse any acts of domestic violence or sexual assault,” the statement read. “We’ve cooperated fully with MLB’s investigation since it began, and we fully support MLB’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Policy, and the Commissioner’s enforcement of the Policy.”
But, it added, “We understand that Trevor has the right to appeal the Commissioner’s decision. Therefore, we will not comment further until the process is complete.”
Later Friday, Dodgers President Stan Kasten told The Los Angeles Times’ Dylan Hernández: “There are legal reasons that we can’t comment. Anything anyone says can be used, not used, so we’re just not saying anything.”
Still, their reluctance to publicly shun him leaves the open the remote chance that they will one day again embrace him, and that is a nauseating prospect indeed.
The Dodgers are afraid to speak, but Bauer still will not be silenced, as he went to Twitter Friday to challenge the ruling.
“In the strongest possible terms, I deny committing any violation of the league’s domestic violence & sexual assault policy,” he tweeted. “I am appealing this action and expect to prevail. As we have throughout this process, my representatives & I respect the confidentiality of the proceedings.”
Bauer hasn’t pitched for the Dodgers since June 28, shortly before a San Diego woman obtained a temporary restraining order against him after they engaged in what the accuser said was nonconsensual violent sex.
The accuser provided medical records that showed Bauer inflicted upon her “assault by manual strangulation” and an “acute head injury.”
While Bauer’s agents have said the encounter was “wholly consensual,” in court testimony she said, “I did not consent to bruises all over my body that sent me to the hospital and having that done to me while I was unconscious.”
The temporary restraining order was eventually lifted by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman, who said the accuser was “not ambiguous about wanting rough sex in the … first encounter and wanting rougher sex in the second encounter.”
In February, the Los Angeles County district attorney declined to file charges against Bauer, and many wondered if this would prevent further punishment. But under baseball’s policy, Manfred can suspend a player even if he is not charged with a crime. He does not need to meet the standard of reasonable doubt.
Manfred is a labor lawyer who understands the vagaries of arbitration and knows his case cannot have any holes or Bauer will jump through them and back on the field. Here’s guessing Manfred wouldn’t easily risk losing a very public and potentially very ugly appeal.
While the results of MLB’s investigation are confidential and not even shared with the team, it is reasonable to believe that the league collected plenty of evidence in handing down such a stiff sentence.
There are now at least three known accusers, the San Diego woman and two Ohio women whose stories were chronicled in the Post. One Ohio woman accused Bauer of punching and choking her without consent during sex. The other Ohio woman claimed Bauer choked her unconscious without her consent during sex.
Bauer has consistently countered claims with legal action. He demanded access to the San Diego woman’s cellphone records, which the courts refused. He is now suing the woman, claiming she conducted a “malicious campaign” against him that included “altered and filtered” photographs of alleged injuries, leading him to lose sponsorship revenue. He has also sued the websites Deadspin and the Athletic for defamation.
It all figures, since Bauer’s been an aggressive sort since joining the Dodgers in the spring of 2021 after signing a three-year, $102-million contract that gave him the highest annual salary on the team.
Although this space initially and ignorantly praised the signing, more discerning voices warned that the Dodgers were damaging their historically dignified culture by bringing in a self-involved promoter with a history of harassing women online and erratic behavior on the field. The franchise of Jackie Robinson was welcoming a guy who would set his Twitter army upon any woman who criticized him and who once threw a ball over the center-field fence when he was removed from the game.
His teammates grew tired of him the minute he showed up at spring training accompanied by a camera that filmed his every move for a social media production.
While he was effective on the mound by going 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 17 starts, he always seemed to be a disaster waiting to happen and, sure enough, it happened.
Andrew Friedman has done many brilliant things in constructing a team that won a World Series championship in 2020 and has advanced to the Fall Classic three times in five seasons. But, even though chairman Mark Walter surely had to approve a $102-million contract, Friedman will take the biggest hit here for ignoring character for stats, forgoing integrity for wins, and failing to adhere to Dodger community standards for the sake of signing a star.
Trevor Bauer never should have been a Dodger.
Thanks to MLB’s actions Friday, it now seems he will never be one again.
But it would still be nice to hear the Dodgers say it.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.