Trevor Bauer suspended two full seasons for violating MLB's domestic violence policy

Gabe Lacques
USA TODAY
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Trevor Bauer received a record two-year suspension from Major League Baseball on Friday for violating its domestic abuse policy, a significant penalty for an elite pitcher who now finds his future in the game in doubt.

Yet unlike the 15 players previously suspended under MLB's domestic violence policy, Bauer will contest his suspension to the end. He has appealed MLB's suspension and is ineligible to pitch until an arbitrator upholds, reduces or overturns the league's ruling. Since MLB and the MLB Players' Association jointly agreed to its domestic violence policy in 2015, all 15 players have accepted or negotiated suspensions ranging in length from 15 to 162 games.

Bauer has not pitched since June, when a San Diego woman levied a sexual assault claim against him, and he was placed on administrative leave by MLB since July, during which he has received his salary. Any suspension under the domestic violence policy would be unpaid.

"In the strongest possible terms, I deny committing any violation of the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy," Bauer said in a statement released by his representatives. "I am appealing this action and expect to prevail. As we have throughout this process, my representatives and I respect the confidentiality of the proceedings." 

Trevor Bauer hasn't pitched since June 2021.

Bauer, 31, signed a three-year, $102 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021, months after winning the National League Cy Young Award in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He won eight of his first 17 starts with the Dodgers but in June was accused by a San Diego woman of assault during two sexual encounters; Bauer countered that their interactions were "wholly consensual."

Under the joint domestic violence policy, players may be suspended in the absence of criminal charges; just one suspended player - former Atlanta outfielder Hector Olivera - served a prison sentence as a result of accusations. 

Other suspended players were charged criminally but had charges dropped, often after partners decided not to cooperate with prosecutors. In Bauer's case, MLB waited to levy discipline until after an extended period during which Los Angeles County prosecutors opted not to charge Bauer with a crime, a decision revealed Feb. 8. 

In August, a protective order against Bauer was rescinded by a Los Angeles judge, a decision reached after more than nine hours of testimony by Bauer's accuser. Bauer invoked his Fifth Amendment rights during the hearing. 

As the legal ramifications played out, Bauer, the union and MLB agreed to multiple extensions of his administrative leave, but with the 2022 season unfolding and Bauer apparently absconded legally, the pitcher was due a disciplinary verdict from MLB.

In addition to the California accuser, Bauer was also subject to an order of protection filed by an Ohio woman in 2020, according to the Washington Post. The woman's complaint, which remains sealed, alleges that Bauer choked her and struck her without her consent during sexual encounters in 2017 and 2018 and later sent her threatening messages on social media. 

Bauer has pitched for the Diamondbacks, Indians, Reds and Dodgers in his career, finding his greatest success with Cincinnati. He posted a 1.73 ERA in 11 starts during the shortened 2020 season before agreeing to a contract with the Dodgers in February 2021. 

"Today we were informed that MLB has concluded its investigation into allegations that have been made against Trevor Bauer, and the Commissioner has issued his decision regarding discipline," the Dodgers said in a statement Friday. "The Dodgers organization takes all allegations of this nature very seriously and does not condone or excuse any acts of domestic violence or sexual assault.

"We’ve cooperated fully with MLB's investigation since it began, and we fully support MLB’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Policy, and the Commissioner’s enforcement of the Policy. We understand that Trevor has the right to appeal the Commissioner’s decision.  Therefore, we will not comment further until the process is complete."

Bauer's suspension is effective immediately and, unlike others, is not retroactive. Should it be upheld by an independent arbitrator, he will remain suspended past the remaining term of his Dodgers contract and into the 2024 season. 

The suspension would also cost Bauer $60 million in salary - the $32 million he is due in 2023 as well as nearly $28 million still owed for the remainder of this season.

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