Trevor Bauer is free to pitch in MLB again, but it won’t be with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers designating the former NL Cy Young Award winner for assignment after his reinstatement from a suspension that was shortened from 324 games to 194 games on Dec. 22, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The team waited until the latest possible time to do it, as the deadline for them to release them or put him on their 40-man roster was Friday afternoon.
Bauer was initially 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 are still on the hook for Bauer’s $32 million salary in 2023, minus 50 games’ worth of pay, as the arbitrator who shortened Bauer’s suspension ruled that his paid administrative leave counted toward the suspension.
Bauer’s Dodgers tenure ends with him having made only 17 starts in the first of a guaranteed three years. The team will ultimately pay him about $65 million for his efforts, with the suspension costing Bauer $37.5 million.
Where does Bauer go after Dodgers release?
The Dodgers’ decision to drop Bauer shows how far the player’s reputation has fallen since he was accused of choking a sexual partner to unconsciousness and assaulting her in June 2021.
Two more accusers have since come forward, while Bauer has claimed that all such interactions were consensual and sued his first accuser for defamation. No criminal charges have been filed against Bauer, but a civil lawsuit against him from the first accuser has recently been allowed to proceed in court.
The Dodgers’ release of Bauer isn’t a great indication for his future prospects in MLB. A team would have to be willing to ignore — and hope its fans would ignore — 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 that he remains in form, despite missing nearly two full years since his last MLB appearance. Bauer was performing like one of baseball’s top 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 and suspension-shortened 2021 seasons.
There could also be remaining questions about Bauer’s actual pitching ability, considering that his biggest success came with well-evidenced suspicions about the sticky stuff on which MLB cracked down shortly before his suspension.
One potential selling point for any teams interested in Bauer is that they wouldn’t have to pay him more than the minimum salary, with the Dodgers footing the larger bill.