LOS ANGELES (AP) — Trevor Bauer is fighting to protect his pitching career, reputation and earning power in the face of his unprecedented two-season suspension by Major League Baseball for violating MLB’s violence policy. domestic and sexual assault.
Now it’s a referee’s turn to decide if he’ll play for the Los Angeles Dodgers again — or any other MLB team.
His punishment was handed down on Friday for allegations of sexual abuse which he denies.
If the umpire sides with MLB, the 31-year-old pitcher’s full suspension for 324 games without pay would stand and Bauer would lose just over $60 million on a three-year, $102 million contract that he signed last year. By then, his contract with the team will have expired.
If Bauer wins, he faces the prospect of rebuilding his reputation, as well as potential public backlash and mending fences with MLB and his team.
Bauer became the Dodgers’ highest-paid player after beating the New York Mets to bring home the right-hander in 2021. He was born in North Hollywood, attended high school in Santa Clarita and played at UCLA.
Public reaction at the time was mixed, not because of Bauer’s performance on the pitch, but his behavior off it. He had been embroiled in multiple controversies on social media, where he has a huge following, and some of the highest-profile incidents involved women.
At the time, Bauer told reporters, “I’m trying my best to be better.” And Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations for the Dodgers, said the team’s due diligence focused on discussions with Bauer, his former teammates and previous organizations.
“We came out of it feeling great,” Friedman said at the time. “Now, obviously, time will tell, but I feel like he’s going to be a tremendous asset, not just on the pitch, but also in the clubhouse and in the community.”
By early July, everything had changed for the 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner.
A San Diego woman, whom the pitcher had met via social media, alleged that Bauer had beaten and sexually abused her earlier in 2021. She later requested but was denied a restraining order. Los Angeles prosecutors said in February there was insufficient evidence to prove the woman’s charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
Bauer has repeatedly said that everything that happened between the two was consensual. He vehemently denied abusing the woman.
He was placed on administrative leave by MLB in July.
His absence in the second half of the season did not affect one of baseball’s best teams. The Dodgers notched a franchise-record 106 wins and finished one game behind rival San Francisco in the NL West. They qualified for the National League Championship Series, losing in six games to eventual World Series champion Atlanta Braves.
They are rolling this season too. Los Angeles beat the Detroit Tigers 5-1 on Friday night and is tied for first in the NL West with a 13-6 record.
The hometown hero role was taken on by first baseman Freddie Freeman, the Orange County native who was signed in March and quickly became a fan favorite who sang to him “Freddie! Freddy!”
Bauer’s teammates have long publicly distanced themselves from the saga, which involves graphic depictions of alleged sex acts and domestic violence — including new allegations detailed Friday in The Washington Post from an Ohio woman — that stand in stark contrast to the family reputation the Dodgers cultivate.
Manager Dave Roberts said he did not address the team after Bauer’s two-year suspension was announced by commissioner Rob Manfred.
“All I know is our guys did a great job focusing on the job at hand and the guys in the room,” he said. “It’s kind of where our head is.”
Of the 15 MLB players previously sanctioned under the domestic violence and sexual assault policy, none appear to have challenged the sanction in front of a referee.
It is not surprising that Bauer is the first. He was a counter-puncher for a long time. He objected to MLB placing him on administrative leave last summer, and he insisted again on Friday.
“In the strongest possible terms, I deny any violation of the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy,” he said in a statement.
Bauer has aggressively defended himself on social media against the San Diego woman’s accusations, as well as two Ohio women who have also accused him of sexual misconduct.
Her representatives said the allegation of Ohio’s first wife was “categorically false.” And Bauer said on Friday he had a “casual and entirely consensual sexual relationship from 2013 to 2018” with the other woman from Ohio and that none of their encounters “has ever involved a single non-consensual act. , much less illegal”.
He sued the San Diego woman for defamation. He is also suing two news outlets for defamation for their coverage of the allegations.
When it comes to baseball, Bauer is also confrontational. He complained publicly about Manfred and went to arbitration when he didn’t like a previous team’s salary offers.
Bauer’s suspension could be overturned on appeal, meaning he could potentially rejoin the team. Roberts alluded to it when he said, “I don’t think it’s all finalized.”
Bauer hasn’t pitched since the San Diego woman’s allegations surfaced last summer. Still, he has the support of some Dodgers fans.
“She filed charges but no charges were filed,” said Stephanie Meraz, who attended Friday’s game. “If there’s no evidence to prove he violated a code of conduct, he shouldn’t be suspended.”
Meraz said if Bauer won her appeal, she would “definitely” like to see him pitching for the Dodgers again.
Another fan, Salina Hernandez, also disagrees with her suspension.
“I don’t think that’s fair,” she said. “There were no charges.”
Jill Painter Lopez, AP freelance writer, contributed to this report.
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