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 Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher was given an unprecedented two-season suspension 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 pitcher denied.
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 on May 23.
Major League Baseball said Scheinman upheld a 194-game suspension but reinstated Bauer immediately. As a result, Bauer will lose pay for the final 144 games of last season and for the first 50 games of next season, through May 23 if there are no postponements.
The Dodgers will have to decide whether to retain Bauer. If they cut him, they would be responsible for the remaining salary he is owed.
“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,” MLB said in a statement. “We understand this process was difficult for the witnesses involved and we thank them for their participation.”
The 2020 National League Cy Young Award winner’s original suspension covered 324 games without pay and if left in place would have cost him just over $60 million from a $102 million, three-year contract that began last year.
Bauer’s accuser sought but was denied a restraining order against him. Los Angeles prosecutors said in February there was insufficient evidence to prove the woman’s accusations beyond a reasonable doubt.
Bauer, who hasn’t played since the allegations surfaced and MLB began investigating, repeatedly has said that everything that happened between him and the woman was consensual.
Bauer was placed on administrative leave on July 2, 2021, under the domestic violence policy, a leave extended 13 times.
Among 15 players previously disciplined under the policy, the longest suspension was a full season and postseason 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 sued his accuser in federal court, a move that came less than three months after prosecutors decided not to file criminal charges against the pitcher. Bauer named the woman and one of her attorneys, Niranjan Fred Thiagarajah, as defendants in the lawsuit. The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they have been victims of sexual assault.
The lawsuit said that “the damage to Mr. Bauer has been extreme” after the woman alleged that he had choked her into unconsciousness, punched her repeatedly and had anal sex with her without her consent during two sexual encounters last year.
The pitcher has said the two engaged in rough sex at his Pasadena home at her suggestion and followed guidelines they agreed to in advance.
Bauer has said in a past statement sent through his representatives that he had a “casual and wholly consensual sexual relationship from 2013-2018” with the woman, which began when he was pitching for the Triple-A team in Columbus.
“None of our meetings ever involved a single non-consensual, let alone illegal, act,” Bauer said. “In fact, she is the one who introduced me to choking, both in our relationship and as a consensual act during sex. The incidents she detailed to the Washington Post — and specifically the one that involved non-consensual choking in which she claims to have convulsed and woken up on a hotel floor — absolutely never occurred, in any capacity.”
After winning his first Cy Young with the Cincinnati Reds in 2020, Bauer agreed to join his hometown Dodgers. He did not pitch after June 29 in 2021 and finished with an 8-2 record and a 2.59 ERA in 17 appearances. He was paid his $28 million salary last year.