The Dodgers were surprised by the timing of Trevor Bower’s decision, and he’s now considering his next steps

It was a quiet afternoon around Chavez Ravine.

For much of Thursday, it was business as usual for the Dodgers front office. Most of the club’s staff were preparing for the upcoming weekend, and some executives had already dispersed Christmas Eve two days away.

Team officials weren’t expecting any significant news – particularly regarding Trevor Bower’s appeal status of his domestic violence suspension, a decision the club didn’t think would be known for at least several more weeks, according to people familiar with the situation not authorized to speak publicly.

But by 5pm PST, everything had changed.

Major League Baseball announced an independent arbitrator reduced Bauer’s original 324-game suspension to 194 and made the pitcher eligible immediately, thus giving the Dodgers 14 days to release him or reinstate him to their roster.

Team officials were only notified of the ruling about a half hour in advance, people familiar with the situation said, and some employees didn’t know about it until MLB’s public announcement.

“We have just been informed of the arbitrator’s ruling, and they will comment as soon as possible,” the Dodgers said in a statement.

Since Bauer was suspended in April, Dodgers family members have received little information about the location of his appeal proceedings.

However, some team officials have been preparing in recent weeks to reduce the suspension. Although Bauer had not played for the Dodgers since June 2021, when allegations against him first surfaced, and his original suspension would have covered the remainder of his $102 million, three-year contract with the team, the possibility remained that he would. It will be brought back for 2023.

Now, it’s a fact.

What exactly comes next remains unclear.

During his appeal, the belief in the industry was that a pitcher would never take the mound in a Dodgers uniform again.

However, as of Thursday night, the club’s directors were still discussing how to proceed, according to people familiar with the situation, and could wait to make a final decision until the earliest date of January 6 to release or activate Bauer.

The team would like to gather more information about what exactly led to the arbitrator’s decision. But confidentiality rules in MLB’s sexual assault and domestic violence policy, which were negotiated jointly by the league and the player’s association, make it unlikely the Dodgers will learn much, if any, beyond Thursday’s statement or receive a copy of the umpire’s final report.

Dodgers starting pitcher Trevor Bauer pitched against the San Diego Padres in spring training in March 2021.

(Ross D. Franklin/The Associated Press)

Some factions of the fanbase hope the Dodgers will release Bauer as soon as possible (which they can do starting Friday morning, once Bauer is officially reinstated by the league).

The arbitrator held that the shooter violated the league’s policy on sexual assault and domestic violence. Even at 194 games, Bauer’s suspension is the longest in the seven-year history of politics.

But until the Dodgers officially cut ties with Bauer, his return to the team is at least a slim possibility.

The financial impact of Bauer’s reduced suspension will begin soon.

Whether the Dodgers release him or not, Bauer will still owe $22.5 million this season. (That could drop to around $21.8 million if he were released and signed by another lower-paying team in the league.)

That’s less than the $32 million Bauer was originally supposed to make in 2023. But even that reduced amount pushes the Dodgers’ estimated luxury tax salary for next season, according to the Fangraphs Roster Resource database, to just under $233 million — the bottom line. Which has the league start assessing luxury tax penalties.

After paying tax penalties the past two years, and facing an inflated 50% tax rate in 2023 for being a repeat offender, it previously seemed likely that the Dodgers would still fall below the $233 million tax threshold.

They saved over $100 million in salary from last year’s team. They’ve only made a string of modest one-year signings so far this off-season. And although their lack of spending netted an underwhelming number of additions for next year, the long-term benefits of resetting the tax now would have seen them spend big again off next season, when Shohei Ohtani is at the helm of the free agent market. .

Bauer’s reduced suspension could complicate any such plans.

Staying below the tax line could deny the Dodgers making other needed additions to the roster in 2023 — such as adding more lifting depth or left-handed bats before winter’s end, or trading for a bona fide shortstop before the mid-summer deadline.

On the other hand, if they cross the threshold to complete the 2023 team, the resulting penalties could make them less willing to pay the luxury tax again the following season, leaving the possibility of adding another lucrative long-term contract a year from now. increasingly weak.

Bauer continued to deny the allegations made against him by three women, two of whom reportedly testified at his hearing. After his suspension was reduced on Thursday, he tweeted that he “can’t wait to see you all on the field soon!”

However, he may not find a warm reception at Dodger Stadium.

Although he was one of the best pitchers on the team in 2021 before his suspension, going 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 17 starts, he was also a polarizing figure even before he was accused of sexual assault.

The allegations also turned the pitcher into a pariah at his own club. Two people familiar with the Dodgers’ club dynamics at the time, who were granted anonymity to speak freely about the situation, said the majority of players on the 2021 team do not want Power back under any circumstances.

None of the Dodgers players have publicly defended his defense since then, either.

It’s all part of what may make Thursday’s news reverberate around the club for so long.

The Dodgers may only have two weeks to decide whether or not to keep Bauer this season. But even after 18 months of uncertainty and speculation, it will likely take much longer for the full ramifications of the situation to become clear.

Staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.

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