What had been all but inevitable became official Thursday — Trevor Bauer is an ex-Dodger.
Six days after the team designated the right-handed pitcher for assignment, the Dodgers on Thursday issued a one-sentence statement on Twitter, saying, “Today, the Dodgers gave Trevor Bauer his unconditional release.”
It means that Bauer — who recently had his Major League Baseball suspension for violations of the league’s sex assault and domestic violence policies reduced to 194 games from two full seasons — is a free agent, able to sign with any team.
However, with Bauer’s baggage, he’s likely to find it a challenge to land with another ballclub. As one baseball decision-maker told the New York Post, Bauer might have to look for a “team on another planet.”
Following Bauer being designated for assignment last week, the Dodgers had until 11 a.m. Thursday to find a trade partner, and, not surprisingly, they found none. That had been the scenario that was expected to play out.
The Dodgers’ tweet on Thursday was posted at 11:01 a.m.
The Dodgers still are obligated to pay Bauer the remaining $22.5 million for the final year of his contract, but if he does pitch for another team, they would save $720,000 — the MLB minimum — or some prorated part of that.
Thursday’s news came a week after the Dodgers issued a statement saying, “We have decided that he will no longer be part of our organization.”
That statement came two weeks after an arbitrator reduced Bauer’s original suspension, making him eligible to return to the Dodgers.
“The Dodgers organization believes that allegations of sexual assault or domestic violence should be thoroughly investigated, with due process given to the accused,” according to the team statement.
“From the beginning, we have fully cooperated with Major League Baseball’s investigation and strictly followed the process stipulated under MLB’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy.
“Two extensive reviews of all the available evidence in this case — one by Commissioner (Rob) Manfred and another by a neutral arbitrator — concluded that Mr. Bauer’s actions warranted the longest ever active player suspension in our sport for violations of this policy.
“Now that this process has been completed, and after careful consideration, we have decided that he will no longer be part of our organization.”
In a statement of his own last Friday, Bauer said he was “disappointed” by the team’s announcement.
“Following two weeks of conversations around my return to the organization, I sat down with Dodgers leadership in Arizona yesterday who told me that they wanted me to return and pitch for the team this year,” Bauer said.
“While I am disappointed by the organization’s decision today, I appreciate the wealth of support I’ve received from the Dodgers clubhouse. I wish the players all the best and look forward to competing elsewhere.”
Bauer — who turns 32 on Tuesday — signed a three-year contract with the Dodgers in February 2020, worth $102 million. The initial two-year suspension would have extended beyond his contract with the Dodgers.
After the arbitrator’s Dec. 22 decision to reinstate Bauer, Major League Baseball noted the arbitrator “affirmed” that Bauer violated the league policies on domestic violence and sexual assault.
“After an exhaustive review of the available evidence the neutral arbitrator upheld an unpaid suspension of 194 games,” according to MLB. “As part of the decision, the arbitrator reinstated Mr. Bauer effectively immediately, with a loss of pay covering the 144 games he was suspended during the 2022 season. In addition, the arbitrator docked Bauer’s salary for the first 50 games of the 2023 season (i.e., the period covering March 30, 2023 to May 23, 2023).
“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.
“We understand this process was difficult for the witnesses involved and we thank them for their participation. Due to the collectively bargained confidentiality provisions of the joint program, we are unable to provide further details at this time.”
At that time, in a statement released on Twitter, Bauer’s attorney, Shawn Holley, and agents Rachel Luba and Jon Fetterolf said, “While we are pleased that Mr. Bauer has been reinstated immediately, we disagree that any discipline should have been imposed. Mr. Bauer looks forward to his return to the field, where his goal remains to help his team win a WS” — a reference to the World Series.
Bauer has not pitched in the majors since June 2021. He was placed on administrative leave in July 2021, shortly after a San Diego woman came forward and alleged Bauer battered her during a pair of violent sexual encounters.
A judge initially issued a temporary restraining order against him, but later declined to extend the order, ruling after an extensive hearing that Bauer and the woman engaged in rough sex within boundaries that the woman herself helped determine.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office also declined to pursue any charges in the case.
Bauer repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
“In the strongest possible terms, I deny committing any violation of the league’s domestic violence & sexual assault policy,” Bauer wrote on his Twitter page when the suspension was announced in April.
“I am appealing this action and expect to prevail. As we have throughout this process, my representatives & I respect the confidentiality of the proceedings.”