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Los Angeles Dodgers cut ties with embattled pitcher Trevor Bauer



Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers officially cut ties Friday with starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, the embattled former Cy Young Award winner who previously received an unprecedented suspension following sexual assault allegations.

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Bauer has been designated for assignment, which means the Dodgers have until 2 p.m. ET Thursday to find a trade partner. If they can’t, Bauer will receive waivers from unconditional release. If he clears them, which is considered the likely scenario, he’ll become a free agent the next day.

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The Dodgers’ decision came two weeks after an independent arbitrator reduced Bauer’s suspension from 324 games to 194, immediately reinstating him but cutting his pay for the remaining 50 games to start the 2023 season. The ruling opened a window of 14 days for the Dodgers to decide whether to add him to their 40-man roster.

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They stretched their decision to a Friday deadline, ultimately choosing a long-overdue route. The Dodgers are committed to the $22.5 million still owed to Bauer for the final season of his contract, but would save $720,000, the major league minimum, if another team signs him on the open market.

“The Dodgers organization believes that allegations of sexual assault or domestic violence should be fully investigated, with due process for those accused,” the team wrote in a lengthy statement Friday. “From the beginning, we have fully cooperated with Major League Baseball’s investigation and have strictly followed the process outlined in MLB‘s Joint Policy on Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse.

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“Two extensive reviews of all the available evidence in this case, one by [MLB] Notary [Rob] Manfred and another by a neutral arbitrator, concluded that Mr. Bauer’s actions warranted the longest suspension of an active player in our sport for violations of this policy. Now that this process has been completed, and after careful consideration, we have decided that he will no longer be a part of our organization.”

The Dodgers were widely expected to cut ties with Bauer for several months, but they surprised many in the industry, as well as their own fans, by how long it took to reach a decision. Part of the delay was because he was initially caught off guard when the referee announced his decision three days before Christmas. The team, the sources said, did not expect a decision until mid-January at the earliest.

But the drawn-out process only triggered outside speculation that the Dodgers might finally reinstate Bauer. Over the past week, members of the front office have been reaching out to players in an effort to gauge their interest in having Bauer return, sources said. The team’s top decision-makers then met with Bauer in Arizona on Thursday, in what marked their first face-to-face interaction in 18 months.

In a statement, Bauer said the Dodgers at the time expressed their desire for him to pitch for them in 2023, a claim refuted by a team source familiar with the meeting.

“While we were unable to communicate during the administrative license and arbitration process, my representatives spoke with Dodger leadership immediately following the arbitration decision,” Bauer wrote in his statement. “After two weeks of discussions about my return to the organization, yesterday I sat down with Dodgers leadership in Arizona who told me they wanted me to come back and pitch for the team this year.

“While I’m disappointed in the organization’s decision today, I appreciate the outpouring of support I’ve received from the Dodgers clubhouse. I wish the players the best and look forward to competing elsewhere.”

Bauer joined the Dodgers in February 2021 on a three-year, $102 million deal that included two opt-outs, but he hasn’t pitched since June 28, 2021.

The next day, a then-27-year-old San Diego woman filed a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) request alleging that Bauer assaulted her over the course of two sexual encounters at her home in Pasadena, California. in April and May, prompting a lengthy MLB investigation that placed Bauer on administrative leave for the remainder of that season.

Bauer, who has denied any wrongdoing throughout, claimed two legal victories later, first when a Los Angeles judge dismissed the woman’s request for a permanent restraining order in August 2021 and then when the District Attorney’s Office of Los Angeles declined to file criminal charges in February. 2022. But two other women made similar allegations to The Washington Post. And Manfred, who has the autonomy to suspend players even if they’re not charged with a crime, announced a 324-game suspension for Bauer in late April, twice as long as the previous longest sanction under the violence policy. domestic.

Martin Scheinman, an independent arbitrator retained by both MLB and the MLB Players Association, spent part of the next eight months presiding over Bauer’s case, reviewing the findings and hearing testimony before determining that Bauer’s suspension would be reduced. to 194 games, 144 of which were addressed during the complaint process. Scheinman essentially credited Bauer for time served during paid administrative leave during the second half of the 2021 season and reinstated him immediately, leaving the rest up to the Dodgers.

The Dodgers’ opening statement — “We have just been informed of the referee’s ruling and will comment as soon as possible” — was surprisingly noncommittal, consistent with their approach over the past year and a half.

The Dodgers canceled Bauer’s scheduled big-head night and removed his merchandise from their stores shortly after MLB first placed him on administrative leave. Team president Stan Kasten later emailed employees in August 2021, as the San Diego woman’s DVRO hearing was taking place, saying he was “deeply concerned by the allegations” against Bauer. Outside of that though, the team has barely commented publicly. And he currently does not plan to do so in the near future, the sources said.

Under the terms of the domestic violence policy, the Dodgers are not allowed access to details of MLB’s investigation or the reasons behind the referee’s ruling.

Bauer won the Golden Spikes Award at UCLA in 2011 and was the No. 3 pick in the MLB draft later that summer. He clashed with his Arizona Diamondbacks teammates, prompting a trade after his first full season, and was at the center of two infamous incidents in Cleveland, allegedly cutting his finger on a drone before a start of the 2016 playoffs and tossed a baseball over the center field fence. him after being cut from a start on July 28, 2019, three days before being traded again.

Bauer defended the Cy Young Award in 2018, then won it while with the Cincinnati Reds during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. The Dodgers, who had just claimed an elusive championship, signed him later that offseason, beating out the New York Mets despite widespread criticism surrounding Bauer’s history of bullying others on social media. During Bauer’s introductory news conference, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman touted the organization’s culture and investigative process, adding that he believed Bauer had learned from past transgressions.

“And you know what, we’re all going to make mistakes,” Friedman said then. “What’s important to me…is how we internalize it and what our thoughts are about the future. From our point of view, it was important to have that conversation. And we came away feeling good about it. Now, obviously, time will tell. But I feel like he’s going to be a tremendous addition, not just on the field but in the clubhouse, in the community, and obviously that’s why we’re sitting here.”

Bauer posted a 2.59 ERA in his first 17 starts, pitching mostly like an ace, before assault allegations led to his delisting. The team essentially replaced him with Max Scherzer for the remainder of the 2021 season, assembling another star-studded roster for a 106-win regular season.

The following year, the Dodgers broke their franchise record by winning 111 games before being eliminated by the San Diego Padres in the National League Division Series. But Bauer’s presence loomed in the following offseason, evident in the Dodgers’ notable inactivity.

Top-tier free agents continued to come off the board, landing record contracts in the process, and the Dodgers, mindful of falling back under the luxury tax threshold and unsure about their payroll as the Bauer grievance process played out, they mostly watched them. go for.

Now at least the team can move on.

ESPN‘s Jeff Passan contributed to this story.


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