Everything you need to know about Trevor Bauer’s lowered suspension
On Thursday night, Major League Baseball announced that Trevor Bauer’s 324-game suspension had been reduced to 194 games by an independent arbitrator. Bauer is eligible to return to baseball immediately, after the arbitrator provided credit for the time he was on the banned list in the second half of 2021. But what was concluded in the decision? And what is Bauer’s future in MLB? We break down the biggest questions surrounding the pitcher’s potential return.
Why was Bauer suspended last year?
Bauer was suspended on grounds of sexual misconduct, but the league never released the full results of its nine-month investigation. We know that a San Diego woman accused him of frequent rough sex in April and May 2021 and sought a temporary restraining order against him later that summer, prompting a lengthy investigation by MLB. And we know that two other women, both from Ohio, made similar allegations while speaking to The Washington Post. Whether there were any alleged victims, or other women the league spoke to, is not public, due to confidentiality provisions in the domestic violence policy.
Bauer strongly denied any wrongdoing, claiming that any sexual acts were consensual. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute him in February, but under a domestic violence policy that was jointly agreed upon by MLB and the union in August 2015, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has the power to sanction players for “good cause”; He does not need to meet the limit of offense beyond a reasonable doubt required by law enforcement. On this basis, MLB felt that Bauer deserved to be suspended for much longer than any player ever had for a domestic violence violation. With this provision, a third party agreed, albeit to a lesser degree.
Who made the decision to downgrade?
A man named Martin Scheinman, who serves as an independent arbitrator held by both MLB and the MLB Players Association. In short stints over seven months, Scheinman served as chair of a three-person panel—also made up of an MLB representative and a representative from MLBPA—that reviewed MLB results and spoke to witnesses. Most of the interviews took place via video conference. Details were not made public, but a Washington Post report Thursday said at least two of the defendants testified from MLB headquarters and more than 20 witnesses were called. The Post added that the operation mostly revolved around three women whose allegations were made public. A source familiar with the situation said the San Diego woman whose allegations sparked the operation witnessed three separate occasions.
What exactly did he decide?
The arbitrator reduced Bauer’s suspension by 130 games, but still ruled that Bauer deserved the longest suspension ever under the domestic violence policy (the previous high was 162 games). Bauer served a 144-game suspension in 2022, which would have remained 50 games for 2023. But a compromise was made: Scheinman essentially gave partial credit to Bauer to spend the second half of the 2021 season — starting July 2, after the first accusations became public — on leave. Paid administration. Power will be deducted from wages for the first 50 matches of the 2023 season, but given back immediately.
What does this mean for Power’s future in the MLB?
Because of this compromise, Bauer would be eligible to perform on Opening Day. As of now, he is still under contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the final season of a three-year, $102 million contract he signed prior to the 2021 season. Regardless of whether the Dodgers are on Power’s list next year, they will owe him about $22.5 million in his original salary. That’s $32 million — unless he signs with another team, which he’ll be on the hook for $720,000, the minimum major league salary.
Bauer last played in the major league on June 28, 2021. In his first 17 starts with the Dodgers, he posted a 2.59 ERA and struck out 137 in 107⅔ innings. In the shortened 2020 COVID-19 season, Bauer won the National League Cy Young Award. He continued his training at his Phoenix-area facility, where he regularly posts videos of himself throwing.
What does this mean for the Dodgers?
The first question for the Dodgers is simple: Do they bring back Bauer or release him? They haven’t given any public indication of what they intend to do — the team said in a statement Thursday night that it will suspend “as soon as practicable” — but a number of Dodgers players have privately called for the team to sever ties regardless of the outcome of its appeal. The Dodgers must decide whether to hire or cut Bauer by January 6th.
Regarding the impact of Bauer’s salary, the arbitrator’s decision relieved some of the tax pressure on the Dodgers’ competitive balance sheet. Currently, according to Baseball Prospectus, the estimated CBT salaries in Los Angeles for the 2023 season are $199 million. Bauer’s full-season salary of $34 million — the average annual value of his deal — should have been counted toward the Dodgers’ CBT number. But a source said the arbitrator by docking the 50-play pay-per-play game reduced the Dodgers’ luxury tax burden by about $9.5 million. This would keep them under the $233 million threshold, which they would have exceeded at Bauer’s full salary.
If the Dodgers cross the threshold for the third consecutive season, the base tax rate for every dollar spent from $233 million to $253 million will be taxed at 50%. Any funds between $253 million and $273 million will be subject to a 62% penalty. From $273 million to $293 million, it would be 95%, and anything over $293 million would be 110%, although the Dodgers are unlikely to come close to the upper thresholds and likely to stay below the lower.
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