Trevor Bauer is free to pitch again in MLB, but it won’t be with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers announced Friday that the former NL Cy Young Award winner will no longer be a part of their organization after being reinstated from a suspension that was shortened from 324 games to 194 games on the 22 December.
The official roster move will be Los Angeles nominating Bauer for assignment. That means the team has until next Thursday to trade him, at which point he must be placed on unconditional waivers. If no team wants to cover Bauer’s salary in 2023, he will become a free agent and be able to sign with any team for the MLB minimum salary of $720,000.
Whether or not Bauer signs elsewhere, the Dodgers will have to cover the remainder of the $22.5 million salary owed to the righty.
In a statement, the Dodgers affirmed the findings of the MLB reviews that led to Bauer receiving MLB’s longest suspension for a player under its domestic violence and sexual assault policy:
Bauer was initially slated to be sidelined for the remainder of the three-year, $102.5 million contract he signed with the Dodgers in February 2021, but his reinstatement left the club with a decision to make. The Dodgers waited until the last possible time to pull the trigger, as the deadline for them to release Bauer or place him on their 40-man roster was Friday afternoon.
The Dodgers are still on the hook for Bauer’s $32 million salary in 2023, minus 50-game pay, as the arbitrator who shortened Bauer’s suspension ruled that administrative leave his paid was counted towards the suspension.
Bauer’s tenure with the Dodgers ends with him making just 17 starts in the first of three guaranteed years. The team will ultimately pay him about $65 million for his efforts, with the suspension costing Bauer $37.5 million.
Trevor Bauer reacts to DFA, says Dodgers management wanted him back
Shortly after the Dodgers announced they were cutting Bauer, the pitcher’s representatives released a statement claiming that team management met with him in Arizona on Thursday and told him they wanted him to pitch for them in -2023:
“While we were unable to communicate during the administrative leave and arbitration process, my representatives spoke with Dodgers management immediately following the arbitration decision.
“After two weeks of conversations about my return to the organization, yesterday I met with the management of the Dodgers in Arizona who told me that they wanted me to return and pitch for the team this year.
“While I am disappointed with the organization’s decision today, I appreciate the outpouring of support I have received from the Dodgers clubhouse. I wish the players the best and look forward to competing elsewhere.”
It is not clear how this fits with the decision the Dodgers made a day later.
Where does Bauer go after the Dodgers release?
The Dodgers’ decision to drop Bauer shows how much the player’s reputation has declined since he was accused of choking a sexual partner into unconsciousness and assaulting her in June 2021.
Since then two more accusers have been brought forward, while Bauer claimed that all these interactions were consensual and sued his first accuser for defamation. No criminal charges have been brought against Bauer, who continues to deny all allegations against him, but a civil suit against him by the first accuser was recently allowed to proceed in court.
The Dodgers’ release of Bauer is not a great indication of his future MLB prospects. A team will have to be willing to overlook – and hope its fans overlook – that Bauer received the longest suspension ever under MLB’s sexual assault and domestic violence policy.
Putting Bauer on the mound in April would also require a team to believe he remains in shape, despite missing nearly two full years since his most recent MLB appearance. Bauer was pitching like one of baseball’s best pitchers when he was placed on administrative leave in July 2021, with a 2.24 ERA and 11.8 K/9 in 180.2 innings between his pandemic-shortened 2020 seasons and 2021 shortened by suspension.
There may also be lingering questions about Bauer’s pitching ability, given that his greatest success came with well-documented suspicions about the sticky stuff that MLB pounced on shortly before his suspension .
The primary potential selling point for any teams interested in Bauer is that they won’t have to pay him more than minimum salary, with the Dodgers footing most of the bill.