By BETH HARRIS (AP Sports Writer)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers are cutting ties with pitcher Trevor Bauer, whose unprecedented 324-game suspension over sexual misconduct allegations was reduced two weeks ago, allowing him to resume his career with the start of the new season.
A person familiar with the situation said Friday the 31-year-old right-hander was designated for assignment, which means the Dodgers have seven days to pull off an unlikely trade or just release him. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the roster move.
If the 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner is released, Los Angeles would remain responsible for the more than $22.5 million remaining on Bauer’s contract.
“After careful consideration, we have decided that he will no longer be a part of our organization,” the Dodgers said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Bauer said in a statement, “Following two weeks of conversations around my return to the organization, I sat down with Dodgers leadership in Arizona yesterday who told me that they wanted me to return and pitch for the team this year.
“While I am disappointed by the organization’s decision today, I appreciate the wealth of support I’ve received from the Dodgers clubhouse. I wish the players all the best and look forward to competing elsewhere.”
The Dodgers had until Friday to restore Bauer to the roster under baseball’s rules and they didn’t announce their decision until late afternoon. The team has rarely commented on the divisive case since Bauer was put on paid administrative leave in July 2021.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Bauer for 324 games for violating the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy after a San Diego woman said he beat and sexually abused her in 2021. Bauer has maintained he did nothing wrong, saying that everything that happened between him and the woman was consensual.
Bauer was never charged with a crime.
The players’ association filed a grievance on Bauer’s behalf, and a three-person panel headed by independent arbitrator Martin Scheinman started hearing the case last May.
In a ruling on Dec. 22, Scheinman upheld a 194-game suspension rather than Manfred’s intended 324-game penalty and reinstated Bauer immediately. Scheinman affirmed that Bauer violated MLB’s policy and docked his pay for the first 50 games of 2023, covering part of the period the pitcher was on paid leave in 2021 and ‘22.
“The Dodgers organization believes that allegations of sexual assault or domestic violence should be thoroughly investigated, with due process given to the accused,” the team’s statement said.
The team said it fully cooperated with MLB’s investigation and strictly followed the rules under the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy.
“Two extensive reviews of all the available evidence in this case — one by Commissioner Manfred and another by a neutral arbitrator — concluded that Mr. Bauer’s actions warranted the longest ever active player suspension in our sport for violations of this policy,” the Dodgers said.
Bauer joined his hometown Dodgers before the 2021 season on a $102 million, three-year contract. He had a record of 8-5 and a 2.59 ERA in 17 games before being placed on leave.
In the likelihood Bauer is released, the MLB players’ association could challenge his release as not complying with the Uniform Player’s Contract.
The contract allows the team to terminate if the player shall “fail, refuse or neglect to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship or to keep himself in first-class physical condition or to obey the club’s training rules” or “fail, in the opinion of the club’s management, to exhibit sufficient skill or competitive ability to qualify or continue as a member of the club’s team.”
In February 2022, Los Angeles prosecutors decided not to charge Bauer for allegedly beating and sexually abusing the San Diego woman because they said they were unable to prove her accusations beyond a reasonable doubt.
The woman, who was 27 at the time, said Bauer choked her into unconsciousness, punched her repeatedly and sexually assaulted her during two sexual encounters.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they have been victims of sexual assault.
Bauer said in a video posted on YouTube after the prosecutor’s decision that he and the woman engaged in rough sex at her suggestion and followed guidelines they agreed to in advance. Each encounter ended with her spending the night at his Pasadena home, he said.
“The disturbing acts and conduct that she described simply did not occur,” he said at the time.
The woman had sought a restraining order, but a judge denied it. The judge found that Bauer honored the woman’s boundaries when the woman set them, and could not have known about those he violated because she didn’t express them clearly.
Bauer will lose about $37.6 million in salary for the final 144 games of last season and for the first 50 games of this season, through May 23.
If Bauer is released, another team could sign him for the major league minimum of $720,000, with the Dodgers responsible for the remainder of the $22,537,635 he is owed.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports