By RONALD BLUM
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Trevor Bauer was reinstated Thursday by Major League Baseball’s independent arbitrator, allowing the pitcher to resume his career at the start of the 2023 season.
The 31-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers star was given an unprecedented two-season suspension without pay by baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred on April 29 for violating the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy after a San Diego woman said Bauer beat and sexually abused her last year, an accusation the pitcher denied.
The players’ association filed a grievance on behalf of the former Cy Young Award winner, and a three-person panel headed by independent arbitrator Martin Scheinman started hearing the case on May 23.
Scheinman upheld a 194-game suspension rather than Manfred’s intended 324-game penalty but reinstated Bauer immediately, effectively assigning 50 games to cover part of the lengthy time Bauer was put on administrative leave while MLB investigated during the 2021 season and early this year.
Bauer will lose more than $37 million in salary for the final 144 games of last season and for the first 50 games of next season, through May 23.
“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,” MLB said in a statement. “We understand this process was difficult for the witnesses involved and we thank them for their participation.”
While Scheinman issued his award to the parties, a full written decision is not expected until later.
The players’ association declined comment. A spokeswoman for Bauer expected a statement on his behalf would be issued later Thursday.
Bauer was never charged with a crime. His accuser sought but was denied a restraining order against him, and Los Angeles prosecutors said in February there was insufficient evidence to prove the woman’s accusations beyond a reasonable doubt.
Bauer, who hasn’t played since the allegations surfaced and MLB began investigating, repeatedly has said that everything that happened between him and the woman was consensual.
Bauer sued his accuser in federal court, a move that came less than three months after prosecutors decided not to file criminal charges against the pitcher. Bauer named the woman and one of her attorneys, Niranjan Fred Thiagarajah, as defendants in the lawsuit. The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they have been victims of sexual assault.
The lawsuit said that “the damage to Mr. Bauer has been extreme” after the woman alleged that he had choked her into unconsciousness, punched her repeatedly and had anal sex with her without her consent during two sexual encounters last year.
The pitcher has said the two engaged in rough sex at his Pasadena home at her suggestion and followed guidelines they agreed to in advance.
Bauer has said in a past statement sent through his representatives that he had a “casual and wholly consensual sexual relationship from 2013-2018” with the woman, which began when he was pitching for the Triple-A team in Columbus.
“None of our meetings ever involved a single non-consensual, let alone illegal, act,” Bauer said.
The suspension will cost Bauer $37,594,233 from his $102 million, three-year contract: $28,131,868 of his $32 million salary in 2022 and $9,462,365 of his $32 million salary in 2023.
Under Major League Rule 2, Bauer will not count against the Dodgers’ player limits for 14 days, giving the team until Jan. 6 to decide whether to cut ties. If the Dodgers jettison Bauer, they would remain responsible for the roughly $22.6 million he is owed next season and he would be free to sign with any club.
After winning his first Cy Young with the Cincinnati Reds in 2020, Bauer agreed to join his hometown Dodgers. He did not pitch after June 29 in 2021 and finished with an 8-2 record and a 2.59 ERA in 17 appearances.
Bauer was placed on administrative leave on July 2, 2021, under the domestic violence policy, a leave extended 13 times.
Among 15 players previously disciplined under the policy, the longest suspension was a full season and postseason for free agent pitcher Sam Dyson in 2021. None of the players previously disciplined under the policy appear to have challenged the penalty before an arbitrator.
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