Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer's leave extended through end of season
LOS ANGELES — With decisions on possible criminal charges and a potential suspension still pending, Major League Baseball and the players union agreed Friday to extend Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer's paid leave from the team through the end of the season.
Bauer has not pitched for the Dodgers since June 28, the day before a woman accused him of sexual assault and obtained a temporary restraining order against him. Bauer was placed on leave July 2, and the leave now has been extended nine times.
The short-term extensions — usually, a week at a time — had provided a path for Bauer to seek reinstatement if he were not charged. However, with three weeks left in the regular season, Bauer's legal status unresolved and the league continuing its investigation into the allegations, there was no realistic way for Bauer to return in time to pitch effectively this season.
"Today, Mr. Bauer agreed to extend his administrative leave through the playoffs in a measure of good faith and in an effort to minimize any distraction to the Dodgers organization and his teammates," Bauer's agents Jon Fetterolf and Rachel Luba said in a statement Friday. "He continues to cooperate with the MLB investigation and refute the baseless allegations against him."
Bauer is in the first year of a three-year, $102 million contract. The Dodgers remain on the hook for his entire $28 million salary this season in addition to two $5 million signing bonuses Bauer has already received. A Cy Young Award winner last season with the Cincinnati Reds, Bauer was 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA over 17 starts with the Dodgers.
Under MLB's domestic violence and sexual assault policy, the right to discipline Bauer remains with the league until it concludes its investigation, or until Commissioner Rob Manfred transfers disciplinary authority to the Dodgers.
At that point, if the Dodgers wish to cut ties with Bauer, they can release him and pay off the balance of the contract, or they can try to void the deal and risk an almost certain grievance, in which they would argue that Bauer had violated personal conduct standards in the contract.
On Aug. 19, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge lifted the restraining order. On Aug. 27, the Pasadena Police Department turned over its investigative file to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, which is now considering whether to pursue criminal charges against Bauer.
MLB is conducting its own investigation, and the league's domestic violence and sexual assault policy requires Bauer to meet with league investigators. However, any such interview would be unlikely to take place as long as criminal charges remain a possibility.
The league is expected to consider the allegations of the woman, who, according to medical records she submitted to the court, was diagnosed with "assault by manual strangulation" and "acute head injury" that she said resulted from a sexual encounter with Bauer at his Pasadena home.
In lifting the restraining order, the judge ruled that there was "no supportable evidence" that Bauer would be likely to "harm or even have contact" with the accuser. The judge also ruled that, although the woman's injuries as pictured were "terrible," they were sustained within the limits of sexual activity set by the woman.
"In the context of a sexual encounter, when a woman says 'no,' she should be believed," Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman said in her ruling. "So what about when she says 'yes?' "
Under MLB's collectively bargained policy, Bauer is being paid while on investigative leave. The policy empowers Manfred to levy an unpaid suspension even if criminal charges are not filed.
In addition to the testimony of the woman, the league also is evaluating information from a second woman, this one in Ohio, whom the Washington Post reported had obtained — and later dismissed — a temporary restraining order against Bauer. In a statement, Bauer's agents Jon Fetterolf and Rachel Luba condemned the Ohio woman's request for a restraining order as a "bogus protection petition as a ruse to demand millions of dollars."