Trevor Bauer was reinstated by Major League Baseball’s independent arbitrator on Thursday, allowing him to resume his career at the start of the 2023 season.
On April 29, baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred handed down an unprecedented two-season suspension without pay to the 31-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers star for violating the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy after a San Diego woman claimed Bauer beat and sexually abused her last year, an accusation the pitcher denied.
The players’ association filed a grievance on behalf of the former Cy Young Award winner, and a three-person panel led by independent arbitrator Martin Scheinman began hearing the case on May 23.
Scheinman upheld a 194-game suspension rather than Manfred’s intended 324-game penalty, but immediately reinstated Bauer, effectively allocating 50 games to cover part of the time Bauer was placed on administrative leave while MLB investigated during the 2021 season and early this year.
Bauer will lose more than $37 million in salary for the final 144 games of last season and the first 50 games of next season through May 23.
“While we believe a longer suspension was warranted, MLB will abide by the neutral arbitrator’s decision, which upholds baseball’s longest-ever active player suspension for sexual assault or domestic violence,” MLB said in a statement. “We understand that this process was difficult for the witnesses involved, and we thank them for their participation.”
While Scheinman issued his award to the parties, a full written decision is not expected until later.
The players’ union declined to comment. Bauer’s spokeswoman said a statement on his behalf would be issued later Thursday.
Bauer was never charged with a crime. His accuser sought but was denied a restraining order against him, and prosecutors in Los Angeles said in February that there was insufficient evidence to prove the woman’s allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.
Bauer, who hasn’t played since the allegations surfaced and MLB began investigating, has repeatedly stated that everything between him and the woman was consensual.
Bauer filed a federal lawsuit against his accuser less than three months after prosecutors decided not to charge him with a crime. Bauer named the woman and one of her attorneys, Niranjan Fred Thiagarajah, as defendants in the lawsuit. The Associated Press does not usually identify people who claim to have been victims of sexual assault.
According to the lawsuit, “the damage to Mr. Bauer has been extreme” after the woman claimed that he choked her into unconsciousness, punched her repeatedly, and had anal sex with her without her consent during two sexual encounters last year.
According to the pitcher, the two had rough sex at his Pasadena home at her suggestion and adhered to pre-agreed-upon guidelines.
Bauer previously stated through his representatives that he had a “casual and wholly consensual sexual relationship with the woman from 2013-2018,” beginning when he was pitching for Columbus’ Triple-A team.
“None of our meetings ever involved a single non-consensual, let alone illegal, act,” Bauer said.
Bauer’s suspension will cost him $37,594,233 from his $102 million, three-year contract: $28,131,868 of his $32 million salary in 2022 and $9,462,365 of his $32 million salary in 2023.
Bauer will not count against the Dodgers’ player limits for 14 days under Major League Rule 2, giving the team until January 6 to decide whether to part ways. If the Dodgers release Bauer, they will be responsible for the roughly $22.6 million owed to him next season, and he will be free to sign with any club.
Bauer agreed to join the Los Angeles Dodgers after winning his first Cy Young Award with the Cincinnati Reds in 2020. He did not pitch after June 29, 2021, and finished with an 8-2 record and a 2.59 ERA in 17 appearances.
Bauer was placed on administrative leave on July 2, 2021, under the domestic violence policy, and the leave was extended 13 times.
Among the 15 players previously disciplined under the policy, the longest suspension was a full season and postseason ban for free agent pitcher Sam Dyson in 2021. None of the players previously disciplined under the policy appear to have challenged the penalty before an arbitrator.