It was shocking Friday afternoon to hear the length of Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer’s suspension.
Two full seasons, 324 games, all without pay.
He will not be credited for time served after being on paid administrative leave since July 2, 2021.
Bauer is appealing the decision but is ineligible to pitch during while it plays out.
It is the longest non-drug suspension of an active player since the 1919 Black Sox gambling scandal, and the strongest message ever sent in the seven-year history of MLB’s domestic violence policy.
A suspension was inevitable. Bauer couldn’t be on paid administrative leave for the rest of his career. Besides, he was pushing for a resolution, even threatening to show up at Dodger Stadium two weeks ago and put on a uniform.
Well, he may never put on a major league uniform again.
This suspension is really a baseball death sentence.
Bauer is 31 years old.
If he loses his appeal, Bauer will have gone nearly three years without throwing a pitch in a game when eligible to return in April, 2024.
He’ll also be a pariah, with no team or fanbase wanting a part of him, even if he is talented on the mound.
Bauer, the 2020 NL Cy Young winner, understands this, and, if you know him, it’s clear he will not go quietly into the night.
But if you believed MLB would be lenient with Bauer considering he was never charged with a sexual assault crime, insisting everything in his sex life was consensual, you don’t know commissioner Rob Manfred, either.
Of course, what we don’t know is what MLB found in its investigation since the results were not released. Considering the length of the suspension, they must have been damning, and a clear violation of the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Policy.
“I think that our policies are robust and appropriate,’’ Manfred said at the 2021 All-Star Game. “Every single time that we have had an allegation, we have conducted the most thorough investigation possible. We have a department of investigations that’s significantly bigger and (has) more expertise than at any point in the history of the game. And when we have found credibility to an allegation, I think if you look at the disciplinary record, we have sent a message about what we will and will not tolerate.”
If it were up to Manfred and MLB, Bauer would have been suspended after a San Diego woman came forward to the police last June and was granted a temporary restraining order. Instead, Bauer kept pleading his innocence, won in court when the judge denied the woman’s request for a five-year restraining order, and was never charged with a crime.
He kept getting paid while on administrative leave for the past 10 months, and started to get impatient, but MLB kept at its investigation, including talking to an Ohio woman who sought a protection order against Bauer in 2020 after “repeated threats” from him.
MLB, after interviewing Bauer last week, heard enough. So they gave him the harshest penalty in the league’s domestic violence program’s history.
Sure, MLB is aware that the two-year suspension may be reduced, just like it was with Alex Rodriguez when he was suspended for 211 games for his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug clinic. The Major League Baseball Players Association fought it, and it was cut to 162 games, wiping out his 2014 season.
The union, no matter how abhorrent the allegations might be, has no choice but to fight for Bauer during his appeal.
Yet, whether the suspension is significantly reduced, slightly modified, thrown out, or untouched, MLB did what it believed was right.
Bauer immediately announced that he was appealing, tweeting, “In the strongest possible terms, I deny committing any violation of the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy. I am appealing this action and expect to prevail.’’
Manfred and his legal team simply say, “Bring it on.”
The appeal process should take months to complete, but once it’s over, no matter the outcome, Bauer still loses.
The Dodgers, who signed him to a three-year, $102 million contract in 2021, may save $60 million with the suspension, but no amount of money makes up for the embarrassment and humiliation this proud organization has endured. They blame themselves for not properly vetting Bauer.
Really, a whole lot of folks can share in the blame. The Arizona Diamondbacks were the ones who drafted him out of UCLA, and almost immediately regretted their decision with his on-the-field polarizing personality. Cleveland traded for him and sent him packing after he threw a baseball over the center-field fence when leaving the game. The Cincinnati Reds traded for him next, but didn’t make an offer when a free-agent bidding war developed between the New York Mets and Dodgers.
Bauer will argue in his appeal that the MLB cannot litigate how players act in the bedroom, and he won’t be satisfied until he gets complete and total vindication.
That day likely will never come.
Instead, remember this day as the one Manfred delivered a clear message.
It may turn out to be a defining moment for he and Bauer.
Follow Nightengale on Twitter @Bnightengale