On Thursday, an arbitrator reduced pitcher Trevor Bauer’s record suspension from 324 games to 194 games, allowing Bauer to return to Major League Baseball after missing all of 2022 while serving a ban for violating the league’s domestic violence policy.
Bauer’s suspension appeal was partially successful, as he will be eligible to play immediately and will keep the majority of his $35.3 million salary in 2023.
However, the financial and professional costs remain high, and Bauer’s suspension is the longest in the policy’s history.
MLB announced that the arbitrator’s decision reinstates Bauer immediately, though he will be docked $10.9 million in pay for the first 50 games of 2023, effectively rendering his time on administrative leave as unpaid time served.
Bauer lost $37.5 million in salary between his 144-game suspension in 2022 and his 50-game pay cut in ’23.
It is a better result for the pitcher than losing two years of salary. However, just because Bauer will be paid does not guarantee that he will play.
According to Major League Baseball, the Dodgers will have 14 days to decide whether to reinstate Bauer from the restricted list. The club could simply release him, despite owing him more than $22 million in 2023.
That 14-day period will end on January 6.
“We have just been informed of the arbitrator’s ruling and will comment as soon as possible,” the Dodgers said Thursday night in a statement.
Bauer, 32, was being investigated by the Pasadena Police Department after an acquaintance accused him of sexual assault in June 2021; Bauer and his legal team claimed that their two encounters were “wholly consensual.”
MLB placed Bauer on administrative leave on July 2, 2021. After a five-month review of evidence, the Pasadena Police investigation concluded in late August 2021, and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office decided not to press charges in February.
The district attorney’s office decided it couldn’t “prove the relevant charges beyond a reasonable doubt,” so Bauer was not charged. These charges included assault with a dangerous weapon, sodomy of a sleeping person, and domestic violence.”
However, a key component of MLB’s domestic violence policy, which was implemented in August 2015, is the league’s ability to suspend players in the absence of criminal charges. Only one of MLB’s 15 suspensions has resulted in a conviction in a court of law, and Bauer’s suspension is the only one that has gone to appeal, with the majority of suspension lengths agreed upon by the MLBPA and the league.
Following the disclosure of Bauer’s California accuser, the Washington Post reported in August 2021 that an Ohio woman sought a protective order against Bauer in June 2020, citing injuries she claimed she sustained when Bauer punched and choked her during a nonconsensual sexual encounter in 2017. Bauer pitched for the Cleveland Indians at the time and joined the Cincinnati Reds in 2020.
MLB confirmed that evidence and witness testimony from both alleged incidents would be considered in determining the suspension. Bauer’s suspension is the longest in the policy’s history; previously, reliever Sam Dyson’s 162-game suspension in March 2021 was the longest.
“While we believe a longer suspension was warranted, MLB will follow the neutral arbitrator’s decision, which upholds baseball’s longest-ever active player suspension for sexual assault or domestic violence,” the league said in a statement on Thursday. “We understand this process was difficult for the witnesses involved and we thank them for their participation. We are unable to provide additional details at this time due to the joint program’s collectively bargained confidentiality provisions.”
Bauer tweeted that he “can’t wait to see y’all out at a stadium soon” after the news of his reinstatement, and his legal representation issued a statement that they “disagree that any discipline should have been imposed. Mr. Bauer, on the other hand, is looking forward to his return to the field, where his goal remains to help his team win a World Series.”
In the last year, Bauer has filed lawsuits against a number of people and news organisations. A federal judge ruled in favour of two people Bauer was suing and accusing of financial harm in November, but he still has defamation lawsuits pending against five people and publications.
Given Bauer’s history of social media behaviour, the Dodgers were chastised when they signed him to a three-year, $102 million contract in February 2021. In January 2019, he apologised on Twitter for harassing a college student, saying he’d “wield my public platform more responsibly in the future.”