Dodgers’ Trevor Bauer reinstated after suspension is reduced

Trevor Bauer’s two-year suspension from Major League Baseball was reduced Thursday, and now the Dodgers have two weeks to reinstate him or release him.

A referee reduced Bauer’s suspension from 324 to 194 games and immediately reinstated him. He lost $37.5 million in salary from his $102 million contract with the Dodgers.

Had the suspension been fully upheld, Bauer would have lost $60 million. Despite the reduction, the suspension is the longest under baseball’s sexual assault and domestic violence policy.

“While we believe a longer suspension was warranted, MLB will honor the neutral umpire’s decision,” Major League Baseball said in a statement.

Bauer waived his salary for the final 144 games of the 2022 season and the first 50 games of the 2023 season. However, the referee allows him to play for those first 50 games, in part due to his cooperation in repeatedly agreeing to investigative leave during which he missed the latter half of the 2021 season.

Under MLB rules, if a player is reinstated off-season from the banned list, his team has 14 days to activate him. That gives the Dodgers until January 6 to decide whether to activate or release him, although the remaining $22.5 million of his salary is guaranteed.

The Dodgers have cited uncertainty about their financial liability to Bauer as one reason for their relative lack of activity in hiring players this winter. The team was not aware of a decision on the appeal until shortly before the verdict was announced.

“We have just been briefed on the umpire’s decision and will respond as soon as possible,” the Dodgers said in a statement.

Bauer’s first public reaction came in a two-sentence tweet promoting his video op and then saying, “Can’t wait to see you all at a stadium soon!”

His agent and two of his attorneys later issued this statement: “While we are pleased that Mr. Bauer was reinstated immediately, we disagree that any disciplinary action should have been taken. Nonetheless, Mr. Bauer looks forward to his return to the field where his goal remains to help his team win a World Series.”

He last appeared for the Dodgers on June 28, 2021, the day before a San Diego woman filed for a restraining order against him, alleging that he sexually assaulted her. The league placed Bauer on investigative leave this week and suspended him last April, and meanwhile two other women told The Washington Post about similar experiences with Bauer. He denied committing any wrongdoing with all three women.

Bauer immediately appealed, and a litigation-like arbitration hearing began in May. Shawn Holley, one of Bauer’s attorneys, told a Los Angeles court in August that the hearing would include “substantial” evidence and could include up to 22 witnesses. The Post reported Thursday that two of Bauer’s three accusers were among the witnesses scheduled to testify.

On February 11, 2021, the Dodgers signed Bauer, a former UCLA star and at the time the defending National League Cy Young Award champion, to a three-year, $102 million contract through the 2023 season. He played 17 games in 2021 and was for suspended or suspended for the Dodgers’ last 243 regular-season games.

Of the 16 players suspended since the sexual assault and domestic violence policy went into effect in 2015, he was the only one to appeal. He was also the only one with more than one publicly known accuser.

Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer delivers during a game against the Atlanta Braves in June 2021.

Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer delivers during a game against the Atlanta Braves in June 2021.

(Brynn Anderson/Associated Press)

Neither Bauer nor the league have said what evidence the league presented in determining the suspension. When MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred imposed the suspension, Bauer said, “I strongly deny any violation of the league’s policy on domestic violence and sexual assault.”

This policy, negotiated between the league and the players’ union, reads in part: “The confidentiality of player information is essential to the success of this policy.” The league is expressly prohibited from disclosing details of any violation unless Bauer or its representatives provide prior notice “Statements questioning discipline or contesting the alleged conduct”.

When MLB suspended Bauer, a judge had denied the injunction, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney declined to file criminal charges, saying the charges could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The public prosecutor’s office had initiated investigations against Bauer for “assault with suitable bodily harm, sodomy of a sleeping person and domestic violence”.

Under a negotiated policy between the league and its players’ union, Manfred has the right to ban a player even if he hasn’t been charged with a crime.

Bauer could sue to get the suspension lifted and the remaining $37.5 million in his contract. However, courts are generally reluctant to intervene in collectively negotiated policies and procedures; Bauer would have to demonstrate that those policies and procedures were not followed.

Bauer sued six parties for defamation, including the San Diego woman. She sued him back, and Bauer asked that her case be dropped because denying the injunction necessarily meant that a court had already ruled that no assault had taken place.

US District Court Judge James Selna denied Bauer’s request in November, ruling that the restraining order hearing had determined whether the woman faced future harm from Bauer, but “did not necessarily rule that Bauer did not strike.” or sexually assaulted [her].”

Bauer and his representatives have long pointed to the judge in the restraining order hearing, saying that the woman was “materially misleading” in her request for the restraining order. Selna noted that the “materially misleading” comment did not relate to her accounts of the two sexual encounters, but to the way she “exaggerated the extent to which Bauer made contact [her] after” the second encounter. Dodgers’ Trevor Bauer reinstated after suspension is reduced

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