Last week’s legal proceedings in Los Angeles Superior Court saw a denial of a restraining order against Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer, but investigations into the accusations against Bauer by both Major League Baseball and the Pasadena Police Department continue on.
Bauer has been on MLB administrative leave since July 2, which has been extended six times with cooperation of the players association, for now through Aug. 27. As of Monday, he’s already missed 44 games on paid leave, which is not considered disciplinary, for now.
Should MLB suspend Bauer, those games on leave can be retroactively converted to an unpaid suspension if needed. For example, if Bauer is out for the rest of this season, that’s 81 games missed.
Per the league’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy, a player can be suspended by MLB without a criminal conviction or guilty plea. Which brings us back to last week’s hearing, which denied a restraining order against Bauer.
Criminal investigation remains ongoing through Pasadena police, and per Alden Gonzalez and Tisha Thompson at ESPN, “the league is not expected to determine the length of a potential suspension until the legal process plays out.”
At Beyond The Box Score, attorney Sheryl Ring argues there’s already ample evidence to suspend Bauer now:
And that’s why this case isn’t the ringing victory Bauer’s legal team would have you believe. First, a court basically just ruled that Trevor Bauer is so dangerous that any woman who sleeps with him can reasonably be expected to get physically injured. Moreover, from the evidence adduced at trial in Bauer’s own words and from the mouth of Bauer’s lawyer, Bauer punched an unconscious woman and choked a woman until she was unconscious, because she didn’t say no. Coming on the heels of the Washington Post report that Bauer threatened to kill a woman in Ohio, this is damning - not exculpatory - evidence for a violent proclivity towards women. That Bauer’s attorney attempted to say that he was only violent during sex is not a defense.
Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post also argued in favor of suspension based on what is already known:
What I do know is that while the judge declined to grant a restraining order, the record shows some kind of violence occurred. Bauer’s attorneys did not argue that. They argued everything around it. They argued the appearance of the bruises could have been worsened by medication. They argued the angle and tint of the photos of them. They argued the woman exaggerated a head injury in a court filing. They argued she slept with other major leaguers and her motive in seeking a restraining order was impure. They argued “the only acts of violence occurred during sex.” They argued she omitted text messages from her legal filing that show she consented to being choked.
To which the alleged victim replied on the stand, “I did not consent to bruises all over my body that sent me to the hospital and having that done to me while I was unconscious.”
In the collective bargaining agreement, MLB’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy defines each covered term. This is how sexual assault is defined:
Sexual assault refers to a range of behaviors, including a completed nonconsensual sex act, an attempted nonconsensual sex act, and/or nonconsensual sexual contact. Lack of consent is inferred when a person uses force, harassment, threat of force, threat of adverse personnel or disciplinary action, or other coercion, or when the victim is asleep, incapacitated, unconscious or legally incapable of consent.
MLB can suspend Bauer without pay for just case if it so chooses, or it could opt to convert Bauer’s administrative leave to a paid suspension pending resolution of criminal proceedings, rather than simply extending his administrative leave every week.
As for what the Dodgers can do, per the joint domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy, a team cannot punish a player unless the commissioner allows them. Per the policy, “If the Commissioner’s Office does not transfer its authority, no Club may take any disciplinary or adverse action against a Player arising from an incident involving a Covered Act.”
The Dodgers could simply release Bauer if they so choose, and eat the rest of his contract, which runs through 2023, but that sounds highly unlikely, at least as investigations remain ongoing.
The team hasn’t said much of anything officially regarding Bauer since he was placed on administrative leave. But a memo from Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten to staff last week, obtained by both ESPN and Steve Henson of the Los Angeles Times, at least addressed a few questions.
From Gonzalez and Thompson at ESPN:
In an internal email sent to hundreds of team employees on Monday afternoon, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN, Dodgers president Stan Kasten began by writing: “During the past couple of months, we have all been deeply troubled by the allegations that have been made against Trevor Bauer.”
Kasten added that the organization has chosen not to comment “in order to allow the legal process and MLB’s investigation to proceed without interference,” later adding that the organization “takes all allegations of this nature very seriously and does not condone or excuse any acts of domestic violence or sexual assault.”
In other words, it could be a while before any of this gets resolved.