Trevor Bauer had his two-year suspension reduced to 194 games through appeal, reinstating the pitcher, and putting the onus on the Dodgers to either release him or add him back to the roster.
There’s an easy choice here. Bauer’s 194-game suspension is the longest under MLB’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy, which has been in effect since 2015. The Dodgers should release him.
Martin F. Scheinman, the arbitrator hired by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, made the ruling after the appeal process that took over seven months.
After the ruling, MLB released a statement on Thursday:
Today, the neutral arbitrator selected by MLB and the MLBPA affirmed that Trevor Bauer violated Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy.
After an exhaustive review of the available evidence the neutral arbitrator upheld an unpaid suspension of 194 games. As part of the decision, the arbitrator reinstated Mr. Bauer effectively immediately, with a loss of pay covering the 144 games he was suspended during the 2022 season. In addition, the arbitrator docked Bauer’s salary for the first 50 games of the 2023 season (i.e., the period covering March 30, 2023 to May 23, 2023). 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.
We understand this process was difficult for the witnesses involved and we thank them for their participation. Due to the collectively bargained confidentiality provisions of the joint program, we are unable to provide further details at this time.
The decision of Bauer’s appeal came on the same day Gus Garcia-Roberts of the Washington Post reported on MLB’s investigation, which included three women accusing Bauer of sexual assault.
One of the women was interviewed during the appeal process for parts of two days, and told Garcia-Roberts, “The relief I felt afterwards, it was amazing. ... To finally get my part out — to have done my part and be done.”
Bauer’s agent Rachel Luba released a statement from her and attorneys Jon Fetterolf and Shawn Holley: “While we are pleased that Mr. Bauer has been reinstated immediately, we disagree that any discipline should have been imposed. Mr. Bauer looks forward to his return to the field, where his goal remains to help his team win a World Series.”
Bauer in a tweet said, “Can’t wait to see y’all out at a stadium soon!”
Bauer’s suspension was levied by MLB on April 29. Prior to that, he was on paid administrative leave for a total of 99 regular season games — the final 81 games of 2021 and the first 18 games of 2022.
Bauer’s salary in 2023 is $32 million, putting the Dodgers on the hook for about $22.5 million. For competitive balance tax purposes — and if the luxury tax was your first thought when hearing the news of Bauer’s appeal, please seek help — the average annual value of his three-year contract is $34 million. Docking him 50 games of pay in 2023 reduces that to about $24.5 million.
By rule under MLB’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy, the Dodgers could not have released Bauer while on the restricted list, instead needing to wait until he was reinstated. Though Thursday’s ruling technically reinstated Bauer immediately, Major League Rule 2(c)(6)(K)(iii) states, “A player reinstated from such a List between the conclusion of a championship season and the mandatory spring training reporting date shall not count against the player limits of the Major or Minor League Club to which the player is reinstated until the fourteenth calendar day following reinstatement.”
Throughout the process, the Dodgers have been mostly silent regarding Bauer, likely for legal reasons, while letting the MLB investigation, suspension, and appeal run its course while Bauer was out of sight and out of mind for a year and a half.
On Thursday, the team released a feckless 16-word statement, saying, “We have just been informed of the arbitrator’s ruling and will comment as soon as practical.”
The team had 18 months to prepare for this; by giving them the benefit of the doubt, they’ve had almost eight months since the suspension was announced to analyze various scenarios to know what their stance is.
It’s time for the Dodgers to let us know.