The Dodgers announced Thursday that they’ve given right-hander Trevor Bauer his unconditional release. Los Angeles designated Bauer for assignment last week and explored trade possibilities for the right-hander but was unable to find a match. He’ll now become a free agent who can sign with a new team for the league minimum. The Dodgers will remain on the hook for the rest of the $22.5MM still left on Bauer’s deal.
Bauer’s release marks the conclusion of the Dodgers’ relationship with the righty, whom they signed to a three-year, $102MM contract in the 2020-21 offseason. Bauer, then heading into his age-30 season, had just been named the National League Cy Young winner in the shortened 2020 season, when he pitched 73 innings of 1.73 ERA ball for the Reds. The contract contained opt-out opportunities for Bauer after each season — similar (but greater in scope) to prior free-agent deals seen between the Dodgers and Scott Kazmir (three years, $48MM) and the Mets and Yoenis Cespedes (three years, $75MM).
Bauer was effective through 17 starts with Los Angeles, pitching to a 2.59 ERA in 107 2/3 innings to begin the 2021 season. That summer, it came to light that a woman in California had filed a restraining order against Bauer and accused him of sexual assault, which prompted a tumultuous investigation by both Major League Baseball and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. He spent the remainder of the season on paid administrative leave — a mutually agreed-upon placement that is common practice when players are being examined for alleged violations of the league’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy. Two other women, both in Ohio, eventually came forth with similar allegations against Bauer.
The California plaintiff’s request for a long-term restraining order was denied in Aug. 2021, with a judge ruling that Bauer did not pose an ongoing threat to his accuser. The L.A. district attorney declined to pursue criminal charges, stating that: “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.”
Despite the lack of criminal charges, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred opined that Bauer had indeed violated the league’s policy, implementing a record 324-game suspension back in April. Bauer appealed the suspension, and after sitting out the entire 2022 season, his ban was reduced to 194 games — which had already been served in full. Bauer was reinstated and is eligible to return to the mound immediately for any team that wishes to sign him.
The Yankees and Mets have no plans to pursue Bauer, per Jon Heyman of the New York Post. The Padres are also uninterested, per Bryce Miller of the San Diego Union-Tribune, and the same goes for the Guardians, per Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Dan Hayes of The Athletic tweets that the Twins also have no plans to speak with Bauer.