Fourteen months ago, the Dodgers signed Trevor Bauer, fortifying their roster for a World Series championship defense with the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, a hometown star who played at UCLA.
Bauer signed for three years. On Friday, Bauer’s Dodgers career might have come to an end.
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Bauer for two seasons, beyond the expiration of his contract with the Dodgers.
Questions and answers on the Bauer saga:
Why was Trevor Bauer suspended?
Manfred said Bauer violated the league’s sexual assault and domestic violence policy, based on what the league called its “extensive investigation.”
What did the investigation reveal?
Neither the league nor Bauer’s representatives would say.
Is this a typical suspension under the policy?
Of the 15 players previously suspended under the policy, the suspensions ranged from 15 to 162 games. Bauer’s suspension is for 324 games.
Bauer is the first player not to agree to a negotiated settlement. He also is the first player with more than one publicly identified accuser. He also is the first player with more than one publicly identified accuser. The league would not say whether its investigators had spoken with any women beyond the two who previously have been publicly identified, although a third woman told the Washington Post she had similar experiences with Bauer and had cooperated with the league investigation.
What did Bauer say?
“In the strongest possible terms, I deny committing any violation of the league’s domestic violence & sexual assault policy. I am appealing this action and expect to prevail,” he said in a statement released Friday.
How does an appeal work?
Under the policy, Bauer can submit the matter to arbitration. The burden of proof is on the league, meaning Manfred has to satisfy the arbitrator that Bauer violated the policy and that the penalty is appropriate. Bauer hopes to pursue an expedited appeal that could be heard next month.
Players suspended under this policy cannot play during an appeal.
Can the suspension be reduced in arbitration? Can it be overturned?
Yes. And yes.
Can Bauer sue the league?
Yes, but he would have to clear a hurdle to have his case heard. Courts generally are deferential to actions taken under a collective bargaining agreement, and the policy has been collectively bargained between the league and its players’ union. Bauer would have to show the league abused its authority under the policy.
Wasn’t Bauer cleared of these allegations?
After a San Diego woman accused him of sexual assault last June, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied her request for a restraining order against Bauer and said she had been “materially misleading” in her written testimony. The Los Angeles County district attorney subsequently declined to file criminal charges against Bauer, saying none of the charges for which Bauer was investigated — assault by means likely to cause great bodily harm, sodomy of a sleeping person and domestic violence — could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
The league policy empowers Manfred to suspend a player even if he has not been charged with a crime. Manfred need not persuade a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, although now he will have to satisfy the arbitrator. The league can consider any evidence its investigators might have found regarding Bauer’s conduct beyond the case with this woman.
Is there evidence Trevor Bauer violated league policy?
The policy defines a nonconsensual sexual act in part as “when a person uses force … or when the victim is … unconscious or legally incapable of consent.” The policy states that “a single incident of abusive behavior … may subject a player to discipline.”
The judge during the restraining order hearing ruled that “the only evidence of anything which happened while [the woman] was unconscious was having been hit on the butt,” despite her allegations of other injuries sustained while unconscious during the two encounters last spring. The judge also said her injuries, as depicted in photographs, were “terrible,” even if she was “not ambiguous about wanting rough sex in the … first encounter and wanting rougher sex in the second encounter.”
Is Bauer’s career with the Dodgers done?
If the suspension is upheld, it would extend beyond the expiration of his contract. If the suspension is reduced or overturned, the Dodgers might have to make a decision.
The Dodgers have not said publicly whether they would welcome him back, although baseball insiders consider that unlikely.
How much money is at stake here?
The Dodgers signed Bauer to a $102-million contract: $38 million last year, $32 million this year, and $32 million next year. Players are paid during investigative leave, as Bauer was from last July until Friday. Players are not paid during a suspension, so the Dodgers’ total payments to Bauer would be about $41.5 million if the suspension is upheld.
When was the last time Bauer pitched for the Dodgers?
June 28, 2021.
If the suspension is upheld, when would be the next time Bauer could pitch in the major leagues?
Nineteen games into the 2024 season, so sometime in April 2024.
Can Bauer pitch abroad, or in any other league?
Not as of now, and probably not until his contract with the Dodgers expires, the team releases him, or the parties reach an alternate resolution.
For now, in accordance with the rules for suspended players, Bauer is on the league’s restricted list, so he remains under contract to the Dodgers and is not free to play elsewhere. Bauer also could consider a league that would not honor MLB restrictions, including independent and winter leagues.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.