Trevor Bauer has not pitched since June last year. He was placed on paid administrative leave after a San Diego woman filed for a restraining order against him for sexual assault. MLB then began an investigation, not only based on that case but also on at least two Ohio women also accusing him of sexual assaults. Ultimately the restraining order was terminated, and the DA did not feel there was enough proof to get a conviction and thus did not file charges. Yesterday, though, the administrative leave ended, and MLB announced a 324 game, unpaid, suspension. Remember, criminal cases are supposed to proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and civil cases by a preponderance (51%) of the evidence. Private employers—in this case MLB—do not have to meet that level proof.
If that suspension holds up, that will mean Bauer will not collect the remaining $60M on his contract with the Dodgers. When the suspension ends, 19 games into the 2024 season, he will be a 33-year-old free agent who will have not pitched in close to three years.
Bauer, for his part, announced he is filing an appeal of the suspension. Both MLB and the Dodgers in turn announced they would make no statement beyond the announcement of the suspension pending completion of the appeals process. No timeline has been set, but ultimately the case will be heard by an arbitrator in accordance with the CBA. Bauer, his lawyers and MLBPA representatives will present their case, the MLB theirs, and the arbitrator will make the final decision. Since MLB and the MLBPA first came together on a joint domestic violence agreement in 2015, 15 other players have faced suspensions ranging from 15-162 games. Bauer’s punishment doubles the record length, and he is also the first to appeal the punishment. He will not be allowed to play while the appeal is in progress. The paid leave does not count as time served, either.
Bauer and his lawyers claim he is fighting for both his career and reputation. However, it should also be noted that he is confrontational apparently by nature. Even before the events that got him placed on leave last year, he was known for calling out commissioner Manfred and MLB over social media, and engaging in disputes with fans as well. He has filed suit against the San Diego woman last week, alleging among other things an intent to ruin his career and extract millions of dollars from him (to date she has not filed any lawsuits seeking monetary compensation, only the restraining order request). He has filed suits against Deadspin and The Athletic, alleging knowingly posting false information about him and maliciously conspiring to ruin his career. In other words, this is far from the last we will hear of Trevor Bauer.
Will he ever pitch again in MLB even if he wins his appeal? I doubt it. There were people questioning giving him such a large contract based on his prickly personality and likelihood of being the center of controversy before last season—before the alleged sexual assaults were known about. Since then, the Dodgers were able to complete a >100 win season without him, and it has been reported that a number of players do not want him back. During his appeal and suspension, he cannot be around the team, and the Dodgers cannot release him. Expect them to do so if his appeal results in his suspension being shortened to at least into the 2023 season. Once the appeal happens, MLB will be presenting its evidence, which will then become common knowledge. For MLB officials to believe a full two-year suspension is in order, one should expect compelling (and graphic) evidence that will do Trevor Bauer’s reputation no good. It seems highly unlikely that he will come off just looking like a guy who likes vigorous sex with willing partners. At that point, even if he has won his case, any team signing him will have to weigh his talent against the s***storm of protest from some quarters…both players and fans…that is guaranteed to follow.
Please note, pending the conclusion of his appeal, and probably thereafter as well, I will continue to refuse to use his picture as the featured image an any post.