7:06pm: The BayStars have officially announced Bauer’s signing on a one-year contract.
2:41pm: Free-agent right-hander Trevor Bauer has agreed to a one-year, $4MM deal with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, as first reported by Japan’s Sankei Sports (Twitter link). Bauer had previously been suspended for 324 games under MLB’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy. Back in December, commissioner Rob Manfred announced that Bauer’s suspension had been reduced, via appeal, to the 194 games he’d already served. He was immediately reinstated, and the Dodgers released him the following month.
For the past two months, Bauer has been a free agent who’s free to sign with any Major League team for the league minimum, as the Dodgers are on the hook for the remainder of his 2023 salary under the terms of the previous three-year, $102MM contract to which they signed him. No team has chosen to do so. It appears Bauer will now head overseas to pitch in Japan’s NPB, widely regarded as the second-best league in the world behind MLB, perhaps with an eye toward eventually engineering a return to Major League Baseball down the road.
When the Dodgers originally signed Bauer, he was heading into his age-30 season on the heels of a National League Cy Young win during the shortened 2020 season. Then a member of the Reds, Bauer tossed 73 innings of 1.73 ERA ball, striking out an elite 36% of his opponents against a strong 6.1% walk rate along the way. He got out to a strong start through 17 starts with the Dodgers (2.59 ERA 31.7% strikeout rate, 8.6% walk rate) and, over the course of his past 569 big league innings, carries a 3.07 earned run average.
Bauer’s Dodgers tenure came to an abrupt halt when, in June 2021, it came to light that a woman in California had filed a restraining order against him and accused him of sexual assault. An investigation by both Major League Baseball and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office ensued. Bauer spent the remainder of the 2021 season on paid administrative leave — a mutually agreed-upon status between MLB and the MLBPA that is not considered punitive in nature. (Administrative leave is common while players are being investigated under the domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.) During this time, two other women, both in Ohio, came forth with similar allegations against Bauer. The alleged incidents in those complaints came prior to the alleged incidents in California.
In August of 2021, the California plaintiff’s request for a long-term restraining order against Bauer was denied. A judge ruled that Bauer did not pose an ongoing threat to his accuser. Months later, the L.A. district attorney declined to pursue criminal charges. While the DA did not declare Bauer’s innocence, the department stated: “After a thorough review of the available evidence, including the civil restraining order proceedings, witness statements and the physical evidence, the People are unable to prove the relevant charges beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Major League Baseball’s domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy does not require criminal charges to be enforced, however. Manfred, upon his own review of the evidence, opined that Bauer had indeed violated the policy and levied that record 324-game suspension, which was reduced to 194 games back in December. Immediately in the wake of Bauer’s reinstatement, reports emerged that several teams were completely uninterested in pursuing Bauer — the Yankees, Mets, Padres, Twins and Guardians among them.