Major League Baseball announced Thursday night that the 324-game suspension imposed on Trevor Bauer has been reduced to 194 games on appeal. He has already served the entirety of that ban. He’ll be reinstated, effective immediately.
“Today, the neutral arbitrator selected by MLB and the MLBPA affirmed that Trevor Bauer violated Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy,” the league said in a statement. “After an exhaustive review of the available evidence the neutral arbitrator upheld an unpaid suspension of 194 games. As part of the decision, the arbitrator reinstated Mr. Bauer effectively immediately, with a loss of pay covering the 144 games he was suspended during the 2022 season. In addition, the arbitrator docked Bauer’s salary for the first 50 games of the 2023 season (i.e., the period covering March 30, 2023 to May 23, 2023). While we believe a longer suspension was warranted, MLB will abide by the neutral arbitrator’s decision, which upholds baseball’s longest-ever active player suspension for sexual assault or domestic violence.
We understand this process was difficult for the witnesses involved and we thank them for their participation. Due to the collectively bargained confidentiality provisions of the joint program, we are unable to provide further details at this time.”
A California woman filed a civil action accusing Bauer of assaulting her during sex, and Major League Baseball placed him on administrative leave when those allegations became public in July 2021. He spent the remainder of that season on paid administrative leave by mutual agreement of MLB and the Players Association while the league conducted an investigation. Two Ohio women later came forth with allegations that Bauer had assaulted them in prior years.
The California woman filed for a long-term restraining order against Bauer. A judge denied that request in August 2021, finding he did not pose an ongoing threat to her safety. Bauer never faced criminal charges, with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declining to proceed with a criminal action after their investigation. “After a thorough review of the available evidence, including the civil restraining order proceedings, witness statements and the physical evidence, the People are unable to prove the relevant charges beyond a reasonable doubt,” the DA’s office said at the time.
Even in the absence of criminal charges, MLB is permitted to impose discipline if its investigation finds a player violated the joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy. The league did so in April, imposing a 324-game ban that went into effect from the date of the suspension. That would have kept Bauer out for the entire 2022-23 seasons (and a few weeks in 2024); Bauer immediately appealed, becoming the first player to appeal a domestic violence suspension.
The appellate process has played out over the past eight months. As per the terms of the policy, the panel consisted of three individuals — one of whom was selected by the league, one selected by the Players Association, and one independent arbitrator approved by both parties.
As the league statement indicates, the panel found that Bauer did violate the Domestic Violence policy. His missed time from the second half of 2021 and the entire ’22 campaign was upheld. Bauer was not paid during the 2022 season after the suspension was announced, and he will forfeit his salary for that season. He will also lose the salary for the first 50 games of next season, as that represents retroactive payment for salary he collected while not playing during his time on administrative leave from July 2021 to April 2022.
However, the panel also determined MLB’s suspension to be excessive and knocked off 130 games from the ban. Based on the number of games he’s already missed, he’ll be eligible to return to the field at the opening of next season.
Bauer has been on the restricted list and hasn’t counted against the Dodgers 40-man roster since first landing on administrative leave. Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets the team will have until January 6 to either reinstate him to the roster or release him. Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets the Dodgers are expected to release Bauer, though the team has yet to comment on the matter.
Even if the Dodgers cut Bauer loose, it’s a meaningful development for the organization from a financial perspective. Los Angeles will owe him his 2023 salary whether they keep him on the roster or not. They won’t have to pay him for the first 50 games of the season, but they’ll remain on the hook for the rest of his $32MM salary. He’ll still be owed approximately $22.12MM after accounting for his docked pay. Perhaps more meaningfully, that money now goes back onto the Dodgers’ luxury tax ledger for the 2023 campaign. As calculated by Roster Resource, Los Angeles’ CBT number jumps to approximately $232MM. That’s just $1MM below next year’s $233MM base tax threshold.
Reporting in recent weeks had suggested the Dodgers were reluctant to spend aggressively this winter, in part due to a desire to maintain flexibility under the CBT threshold in case Bauer’s suspension were reduced. With that coming into play, they’ll have virtually no financial breathing room without shedding salary unless they’re willing to pay the luxury tax for a third straight season.