Trevor Bauer cast a shadow over the 2021 Dodgers season both on and off the field. Concern when he was signed surrounded his history of being an online bully, which the Dodgers were perfectly willing to overlook. But things got much worse.
Going from a 60-game campaign to a full 162-game season was going to be a challenge, and the Dodgers correctly surmised they would need bulk to fill innings. That included rostering eight starting pitchers on opening day, with Bauer’s role quite clear.
“His ability to take the ball every turn is really impactful,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in February. “For us as we are looking to navigate the unknown, and all that comes with that, adding to our pitching depth was something that was important to us.”
On the field, Bauer filled that role, along the way also criticizing MLB’s methods of checking pitchers for foreign substances applied to the baseball.
Through July 1, he led the majors with 107⅔ innings pitched and 137 strikeouts. The next day, Major League Baseball placed Bauer on administrative leave per the league’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.
On June 29, a temporary restraining order request against Bauer was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, stemming from two sexual encounters. On August 19, that request was denied. MLB’s investigation remains ongoing. The Pasadena Police Department completed its investigation, and to date Bauer hasn’t been charged with a crime, though that is not required for MLB to levy a suspension per the league’s policy agreed on by players and owners.
Also per the joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy, a team cannot discipline a player while an MLB investigation is ongoing. The Dodgers have said as little as possible, not even releasing a perfunctory, blameless statement denouncing sexual assault.
The Dodgers even went through the motions during the three-day limbo between the restraining order and MLB placing him on administrative leave, with Dave Roberts maintaining Bauer would make his next scheduled start. He did not.
Bauer was on administrative leave for the final 81 games of the season, during which he was paid, while MLB’s investigation continued.
All traces of Bauer were soon excised from Dodger Stadium, including his jersey removed from team stores. But for now, at least officially, Bauer remains a part of the organization.
“From our standpoint, it’s being handled by the league office,” Friedman said on October 27. “As soon as something is decided, obviously we will come down and talk through it extensively with you guys. But until that happens, we have to reserve comment.”
There is no restricted list during the offseason, so Bauer occupies a spot on the Dodgers’ full 40-man roster, unlike when he was on the restricted list while on administrative leave during the season. His $34 million average annual value also counts against any sort of competitive balance tax threshold still to be determined with collective bargaining agreement negotiations still ongoing, unless a suspension cuts into the amount Bauer is owed.
For now, we wait.
Stats: 2.59 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 137 K, 107⅔ IP; 81 days on administrative leave
Salary: $38 million (including a $10 million signing bonus)
Everything is still up in the air with MLB’s investigation into Bauer still ongoing and a possible suspension looming. But outside of that, Bauer has two years remaining on his contract at $32 million per season. He can opt out after the 2022 season and receive a $15 million buyout.