NEW YORK (AP) — Trevor Bauer was reinstated Thursday by Major League Baseball’s independent arbitrator, allowing the pitcher to resume his career at the start of the 2023 season.
The 31-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers star was suspended for an unprecedented two seasons without pay by Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred on April 29 for violating the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy after a San Diego woman said Bauer beat and sexually abused her. Last year, an accusation the bowler denied.
The players’ union lodged a complaint on behalf of the former Cy Young Award winner, and a three-person panel chaired by independent arbitrator Martin Scheinman began hearing the case on 23 May.
Scheinman upheld the 194-game suspension instead of the 324-game penalty Manfred had intended, but reinstated Bauer immediately, setting aside 50 games to cover part of the lengthy time that Bauer was placed on administrative leave while MLB achieved through the 2021 season and early this year.
“I can’t wait to see you on the field soon!” Bauer wrote on Twitter.
Bauer will forfeit more than $37 million in salary for the last 144 games of last season and for the first 50 games of next season, through May 23. The lost salary next year is effectively restitution from part of his administrative leave, when he continued to receive pay.
MLB said Scheinman maintained that Bauer violated its domestic violence policy.
“While we believe a longer suspension was warranted, MLB will abide by the neutral arbitrator’s decision, which upholds the longest suspension of players in baseball for sexual assault or domestic violence,” MLB said in a statement. “We understand that this process has been difficult for the witnesses involved and we thank them for their participation.”
While Scheinman has released his award to the parties, a full written decision is not expected until later. The committee included MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halim and union general counsel Bob Lenaghan.
The players’ union declined to comment on Scheinman’s decision. A spokeswoman for Bauer expected a statement on his behalf to be issued later Thursday.
Bauer was never charged with a crime. The accuser sought and was denied a restraining order against him, and Los Angeles prosecutors said in February there was insufficient evidence to prove the woman’s accusations beyond a reasonable doubt.
Bauer, who has not played since the allegations emerged and MLB began investigating, has repeatedly said that everything that happened between him and the woman was consensual.
An after-hours email was sent Thursday seeking comment from the woman’s attorney, Brian Friedman, immediately.
Bauer sued the accuser in federal court, a move that came less than three months after prosecutors decided not to file criminal charges against the pitcher. Bauer has named the woman and one of her lawyers, Niranjan Farid Thiagaraja, as defendants in the lawsuit. The Associated Press does not usually identify people who say they have been victims of sexual assault.
The lawsuit says “the harm suffered by Mr. Bauer was severe” after the woman alleged he choked her unconscious, repeatedly punched her and had anal sex with her without her consent during two sexual encounters last year.
Archer said the two had rough sex at his home in Pasadena at her suggestion and followed the guidelines they had previously agreed upon.
Bauer said in a previous statement sent through his representatives that he had a “passionate, fully consensual sexual relationship from 2013-2018” with the woman, which began when he was pitching for Triple-A in Columbus.
“None of our meetings ever involved a single act that was non-consensual, let alone illegal,” Bauer said.
The suspension would cost Bauer $37,594,233 of his $102 million three-year contract: $28,131,868 of his $32 million salary in 2022 and $9,462,365 of his $32 million salary in 2023. .
Under Major League Rule 2, Bauer will not count on the Dodgers player boundary for 14 days, giving the team until January 6 to decide whether to sever ties. If the Dodgers get rid of Bauer, they will still be liable for approximately $22.6 million owed to him next season and he will be free to sign with any club.
“We have just been informed of the arbitrator’s decision and will be commenting as soon as possible,” the Dodgers said in a statement.
The money not paid to Bauer will be reflected on the Dodgers’ tax fancy payroll, reducing the amount of tax they must pay this year and are expected to pay in 2023.
After winning his first Cy Young title with the Cincinnati Reds in 2020, Bauer agreed to join his hometown Dodgers. He did not play after June 29 in 2021 and finished with an 8-2 record and 2.59 ERA in 17 games.
Bauer was placed on administrative leave on July 2, 2021, under the Domestic Violence Policy, an extended leave of absence 13 times.
Of the 15 players previously disciplined under the policy, the longest suspension is a full season and postseason suspension for free agent pitcher Sam Dyson in 2021. None of the players previously disciplined under the policy appear to have challenged the penalty before an arbitrator.
Bauer’s suspension was the longest of any MLB player since pitcher Jenrry Mejia was banned for life in 2016 for the third drug agreement violation. Mejia was reinstated for 2019 and back in the minor leagues.