The Los Angeles Dodgers officially cut ties Friday with starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, the beleaguered former Cy Young Award winner who had previously received an unprecedented suspension following sexual assault allegations.
Bauer has been slated for assignment, which means the Dodgers have until 2 p.m. ET Thursday to find a trade partner. If they can’t, Bauer will be subject to unconditional release waivers. If he clears them, which is considered the 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, reinstating him immediately but reducing his salary for the remaining 50 games to start the 2023 season. The decision triggered a window 14 days for the Dodgers to decide to add him to their 40-man roster.
They extended their decision until Friday’s deadline, ultimately choosing a long-awaited route. The Dodgers are on the hook for the $22.5 million Bauer still owes for the final season of his contract, but would save $720,000, the major league minimum, if another team signed him on the open market.
“The Dodgers organization believes that allegations of sexual assault or domestic violence should be thoroughly investigated, with due process afforded to the accused,” the official said. the team wrote in a lengthy statement Friday. “From the outset, we have fully cooperated with Major League Baseball’s investigation and strictly followed the process set forth in MLB’s Joint Policy on Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse.
“Two thorough reviews of all available evidence in this case – one by [MLB] Commissioner [Rob] Manfred and another by a neutral arbitrator – concluded that Mr. Bauer’s actions justified the longest active player suspension ever in our sport for violating this policy. Now that this process is complete, and after careful consideration, we have decided that he will no longer be part of our organization.”
The Dodgers had been expected to cut ties with Bauer for several months, but they surprised many in the industry, as well as their own fans, with how long it took them to come to the decision. . Part of the delay was because he was initially caught off guard when the referee announced his decision three days before Christmas. The team, according to sources, did not expect a decision until mid-January at the earliest.
But the protracted process only sparked outside speculation that the Dodgers might eventually reinstate Bauer. Over the past week, members of the front office have contacted the players in a bid to gauge their interest in Bauer’s return, sources said. The team’s top decision makers then met with Bauer in Arizona on Thursday, in what was their first face-to-face interaction in 18 months.
In a statement, Bauer claimed the Dodgers then expressed a desire for him to pitch for them in 2023 — a claim refuted by a team source familiar with the meeting.
“Although we were unable to communicate throughout the administrative leave and arbitration process, my representatives spoke to Dodgers management immediately following the arbitration decision,” Bauer wrote in his statement. “After two weeks of conversations surrounding my return to the organization, I met with Dodgers management in Arizona yesterday who told me they want me to return and pitch for the team this year.
“While I am disappointed with the organization’s decision today, I appreciate the support I have received from the Dodgers clubhouse. I wish the players the best and look forward to competing elsewhere.”
Bauer joined the Dodgers in February 2021 on a three-year, $102 million deal that included two opt-out options — but he hasn’t pitched since June 28, 2021.
The next day, a San Diego woman, then 27, filed for a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) in which she alleged that Bauer assaulted her during two sexual encounters at his home in Pasadena, California. in April and May, triggering a protracted MLB investigation that left Bauer on administrative leave for the remainder of that season.
Bauer, who has denied any wrongdoing, won two court victories afterwards, first when a Los Angeles judge denied the woman’s request for a permanent restraining order in August 2021, then when the the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office declined to file criminal charges in February. 2022. But two other women made similar allegations to The Washington Post. And Manfred, who has the autonomy to suspend players even if they are not charged with a crime, announced a 324-game ban for Bauer in late April, twice as long as the previous longest sentence. under the domestic violence policy.
Martin Scheinman, an independent arbitrator hired by both MLB and the MLB Players Association, spent part of the next eight months presiding over Bauer’s case, reviewing findings and listening to testimony before deciding. Bauer’s suspension would be reduced to 194 games, 144 of which were served during the grievance process. Scheinman essentially credited Bauer for the time spent on paid administrative leave throughout the second half of the 2021 season and immediately reinstated him, leaving the rest in the hands of the Dodgers.
The Dodgers’ initial statement — “We have just been notified of the referee’s decision and will comment as soon as possible” — was surprisingly noncommittal, consistent with their approach over the previous year and a half.
The Dodgers canceled Bauer’s scheduled bobblehead night and pulled his merchandise from their stores shortly after MLB placed him on administrative leave for the first time. Team president Stan Kasten later emailed employees in August 2021 as the San Diego woman’s DVRO hearing unfolded, saying he was “deeply troubled by the allegations.” against Bauer. Other than that, however, the team has made little public comment. And he currently has no plans to do so in the near future, sources said.
Under the terms of the domestic violence policy, the Dodgers are not permitted access to details of MLB’s investigation or the reasons for the umpire’s decision.
Bauer won the Golden Spikes Award at UCLA in 2011 and was the third pick in the MLB Draft later that summer. He clashed with his Arizona Diamondbacks teammates, prompting a trade after his first full season, and was at the center of two infamous incidents in Cleveland, allegedly severing his finger with a drone before the playoffs started. 2016 throwing a baseball over the center field fence. after being pulled from a release on July 28, 2019, three days before being traded again.
Bauer pleaded for the Cy Young Award in 2018, then won it with the Cincinnati Reds during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. The Dodgers, fresh off claiming an elusive championship, signed him later this offseason, outbidding the New York Mets despite rampant criticism surrounding Bauer’s history of bullying others on social media. At 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 internalize it and what we think about it going forward. From our perspective, it was important to have this conversation. And we came away satisfied. Now , obviously , time will tell. But I feel like he’s going to be a tremendous asset, not just on the field, but in the clubhouse, in the community, and that’s obviously why we’re sitting here.
Bauer posted a 2.59 ERA in his first 17 starts, mostly throwing as an ace, before assault allegations led to his removal from the roster. The team essentially replaced him with Max Scherzer for the remainder of the 2021 season, leading another star-laden roster to a 106-win regular season.
The following year, the Dodgers smashed 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 ensuing offseason, evident in the Dodgers’ noticeable inactivity.
Top-tier free agents continued to roll off the board, earning record contracts in the process, and the Dodgers – anxious to get back under the luxury tax threshold and uncertain of their payrolls while the grievance process de Bauer was unfolding – mostly watched them pass.
Now at least the team can move on.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan contributed to this story.
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