The Reality of the Trevor Bauer Situation

The Reality of the Trevor Bauer Situation
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The reality of the Trevor Bauer situation is that he will not be playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2023. The Dodgers released a statement saying as much on Friday, which was their last day to make the choice between reinstating him or designating him for assignment. They obviously chose the latter–prompting many to applaud this move, and many others to express disappointment, resentment, and even anger at the Dodgers organization.

No matter which side of the debate you find yourself on, the Trevor Bauer situation deserves a deeper look. Trevor Bauer just served the longest suspension in MLB history for breaking the MLB Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Policy. Trevor Bauer is not the only player to have been suspended by the league for violating this policy. However, he has been suspended for more than twice as long as any other violator. Since the policy was established in March of 2016, there have been 15 suspensions for violations of it.

Past Violators of the MLB Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Policy

Prior to the Policy being in place, there were two suspensions. Wil Cordero was suspended for eight games after being arrested for domestic violence in 1997. Julio Mateo was suspended in 2007 for 10 games after his arrest for domestic abuse. After the implementation of the policy, Aroldis Chapman was the first player suspended under it in 2016. His suspension was for 30 games after allegedly choking his girlfriend and pushing her against a wall before firing eight gunshots in his garage. It was well publicized and no charges were ever filed because his girlfriend and the other two witnesses refused to cooperate with the police. This is why MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred was justified in suspending him in absence of an arrest.

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José Reyes was suspended for 51 games after his arrest for domestic abuse in 2016. Further, Héctor Olivera was also suspended for 82 games, in the same month, after being convicted of domestic assault and serving a 10-day jail sentence. The next year was 2017 and there were another two suspensions. This time they were for Jeurys Familia and Derek Norris. They were suspended with slaps on their wrists. Familia was arrested for domestic violence and suspended for 15 games while Norris was accused of it by his ex-fiance and released by the Tampa Bay Rays prior to being suspended for the remainder of the season. Norris was released in June but not suspended until September.

2018 Was a Suspendful Year

There were four suspensions for violating the policy in 2018: Steven Wright for 15 games, José Torres for 100 games, Roberto Osuna for 75, and 40 for Addison Russell. Wright was arrested and charged with domestic assault in December of 2017 and suspended in 2018. Torres was arrested, charged, and pleaded guilty to domestic violence. Osuna was arrested and charged with domestic assault and served 10 days in jail. Russell was accused twice of domestic abuse and suspended the second time his wife made the allegations public. As a result, Russell accepted and did not appeal the 40-game suspension. 2018 was indeed very “suspendful.”

2019 saw two suspensions. Odúbel Herrera and Julio Urias were both suspended for 85 and 20 games, respectively. Herrera was arrested for domestic violence and Urias was arrested on suspicion of domestic battery. Urias then agreed to “commit no acts of violence against anyone,” and complete a year-long domestic violence counseling program to avoid the charge. Urias is still a huge member of the Dodgers starting rotation today.

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Domingo Germán was suspended in January 2020 for 81 games after assaulting his girlfriend in public, then continuing the assault at his home. He apologized for the incident over a video conference with his entire team.

The next year Sam Dyson was suspended for the entire 2021 season for domestic violence. The abuse was corroborated by multiple sources and there were multiple victims — and even a lawsuit filed by one of them. The league handed down their steepest penalty ever at the time: 162 games. It isn’t clear if Dyson is going to be seen in the league again, as he has not pitched in the majors since 2019.

The Last Two Were in 2022

Carlos Martinez was suspended in 2022, as was Trevor Bauer. There is practically no information on why Martinez was suspended under the Policy. He was already suspended at the time for violating the minor league drug program with a positive PED test and during that suspension, he was suspended further for violating the MLB Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Policy. It is unclear what caused the 85-game suspension but, as his career was seemingly already over, it was inconsequential. Martinez had a nine-year career and will likely not play in affiliated baseball again.

The Trevor Bauer Situation

The Trevor Bauer situation is completely different than every other one. A person claimed sexual battery and assault directly to the police with her evidence and got a temporary restraining order. The police then looked at her evidence and spoke with Bauer. Bauer denied it and showed his evidence, and as a result, no arrest was made. The police continued the investigation and investigated thoroughly. After that, the Los Angeles County District Attorney looked at the results of the investigation submitted by police and all of the evidence and statements for five months. At the end of that time, they refused to press any charges.

Most people see this as well as the evidence that has been released publically, and they say it is obviously an attempted setup. There were selfy videos taken in Bauer’s bed the morning after one of these alleged assaults. The video above was allegedly taken the morning after the second encounter. The alleged victim smiled, raised her eyebrows, pouted her lips, and showed a sleeping Bauer beside her. This video is much different than the photos first released to the public.

Accuser Jokes About Making Millions From Slap

In between the two encounters with Bauer, the accuser spoke via text message about being compensated $50 million for a slap. She claimed in her testimony that the statement was made in jest. This is prior to any accusation. In a later text message, that same friend told the accuser to “secure the bag.” There were allegedly text messages between her and a friend where she discusses traveling around Europe after setting Bauer up and getting paid by “tricking him into having rough and then rougher sex with her” according to Bauer’s attorneys. The accuser’s attorney claims that the context of the conversation was “about going to Europe when she was a rich baseball wife,” however. Those text messages may be revealed in Bauer’s defamation lawsuit against his accuser.

For now, we still don’t know everything. Perhaps we never will and we probably shouldn’t. But we do know some things whether we want to or not. There were rules, boundaries, instructions, and requests for what Bauer was to do, and he complied. The accuser attempted to help her case with a permanent restraining order, but the judge, California Superior Court Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman, denied her.

The Judge’s Findings: “Materially Misleading”

Gould-Saltman found a lot. She found that the woman’s petition was “materially misleading.” The judge also said in her ruling that Bauer did not violate the accuser’s consent. This means that the judge agrees that what took place in the two situations was done with consent. She went on to say that the woman “set limits without fully considering all the consequences.” Furthermore, the judge found that when the accuser set boundaries, Bauer respected them. When she seemed upset, Bauer was compassionate–inviting her to talk to him, bring her groceries…etc. and that she had multiple opportunities to set boundaries.

The accuser texted Bauer asking for rough sex, and rougher sex the second time. She even texted him to “Gimme all the pain. Rawr.” She explicitly asked for Bauer to choke her out, “do it harder” when Bauer mentions having his arm around her neck,  “get a couple slaps in there” and eludes to leaving “another handprint” on her body during the same text conversation. The judge found that there was only enough evidence of what happened while the woman was unconscious to definitively conclude that Bauer had slapped her on the behind. Even when she tried to bait him into admitting to doing other things including sodomizing her while police were listening in on a voice-recorded call, Bauer did not waiver.

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The Judge’s Ruling and Bauer’s Suspension

The judge pretty much said Bauer did nothing wrong. She said she believed Bauer did not do anything that the woman did not consent to. Furthermore, she explained that “If she set limits and he exceeded them, this case would’ve been clear. But she set limits without considering all the consequences, and respondent did not exceed limits that the petitioner set.” She said the woman “was not ambiguous about wanting rough sex in the parties’ first encounter, and wanting rougher sex in the second encounter.” The judge stated her decision was based on evidence she believed showed the roughness of their sexual encounter was consensual. “We consider in a sexual encounter that when a woman says no she should be believed,” Gould-Saltman said, per the transcript. “So, what should we do when she says yes?”

This is why there were no charges filed against Bauer by the DA. It seems that the authorities are in full agreement that Bauer did nothing legally wrong and it is starting to look like an obvious setup attempt.

Not to Manfred though. He suspended Bauer for an unprecedented, longest suspension in MLB history: 324 games, and the almost two full seasons on administrative leave do not count. So it would have been almost four seasons of leave and suspension for apparently having consensual rough sex twice.

The Reality of the Trevor Bauer Suspension

There are a lot of people who think that Bauer deserved Manfred’s punishment for what he has admitted to doing in his bedroom. There are also a lot of those who think he should not have been suspended at all. The latter group brings up the fact that Trevor Bauer was never arrested, nor charged with any crime. And it is not like the police did not want the publicity of such a high-profile arrest. They did. However, there was simply not enough evidence that a crime was actually committed. According to the policy, the commissioner, in this case Rob Manfred, can suspend a player even in absence of criminal charges.

Bauer was on Administrative Leave from June of 2021-the entire 2022 season. And even though Bauer is reinstated, the accuser cost Bauer over $60M in lost wages. Her plan seemed to be to encourage Bauer to get really rough with her during sex so that she could then sue Bauer, be awarded millions, and be able to tour the world with her friends, or just get paid millions to drop the case. Bauer has not waivered in his proclaimed innocence and even addressed what the woman accused him of in a video entitled, “ The Truth.”

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The Major League Policy at the Time

Due to the definitions of “domestic violence” and “sexual assault” provided by the MLB – MLBPA Joint Domestic Violence Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy that was effective from December 2016 until March 2022, whether or not the accuser is a willing participant in an act of “physical or sexual violence” resulting in injury does not matter. Bauer committed both “domestic violence” and “sexual assault” by the Policy’s definitions. Here is the definition of “domestic violence” as set forth by the Policy at the time:

Domestic Violence Definition

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any intimate relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. It occurs in heterosexual and same sex relationships and impacts individuals from all economic, educational, cultural, age, gender, racial, and religious demographics. Domestic violence includes, but is not limited to, physical or sexual violence, emotional and/or psychological intimidation, verbal violence, stalking, economic control, harassment, physical intimidation, or injury. Notwithstanding this definition, a single incident of abusive behavior in any intimate relationship, or a single incident of abusive behavior involving a female member of a Player’s family who is domiciled with him, may subject a Player to discipline under this Policy

A wise attorney, like Manfred, could easily construe Bauer’s sexual deviancy described in the text messages as a “pattern of abusive behavior” in an intimate relationship resulting in or leading to “physical or sexual violence, … or injury.” But the domestic violence claim is not the worst news for Bauer. The definition of “sexual assault” in the Policy at the time is much more devastating:

Sexual Assault Definition

Sexual assault refers to a range of behaviors, including a completed nonconsensual sex act, an attempted nonconsensual sex act, and/or nonconsensual sexual contact. Lack of consent is inferred when a person uses force, harassment, threat of force, threat of adverse personnel or disciplinary action, or other coercion, or when the victim is asleep, incapacitated, unconscious or legally incapable of consent.

Due to this definition, the accuser is incapable of consent when she is asleep, incapacitated, or unconscious. This is precisely what the accuser asked Bauer to do to her in text messages. But because she is asleep or unconscious when the sexual act takes place, she is unable to provide her consent by definition, even though she provided her consent prior to the action taking place.

In other words, the Policy does not allow Bauer to fulfill his sexual deviancies. It does not matter if he sits down and has an informed discussion with his partner beforehand, which he and the accuser did do prior to the two acts. Whether or not his accuser asks him to choke her out, which she did do, is not relevant according to this definition of sexual assault. It does not matter if the accuser asks him to do violent things to her or leave injuries on her while she is unconscious, which she also did do.

Manfred had the support of a written policy to suspend Bauer upon the accusations going public. This is a fact. But the Trevor Bauer situation must have seemed as if it was too good to be true for Manfred, given his recent history with Bauer.

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The Problem with the Policy

It’s not that sexual perversion or deviancy is something that is preferred reading material for many people. Obviously, it’s quite the opposite. Nobody wants to associate this type of behavior with sports activity. Trevor Bauer would likely tell you the same thing. It was not his intent to associate his behavior with baseball nor have all of this come out. He wanted it to remain in his bedroom. So we have an accuser and obviously, an accuser needs to be treated with compassion, dignity, and class. To the utmost extent on all three things. But at the same time, we must understand that while bad things sometimes happen in this world, sometimes people act like bad things happen to exploit other people. Because of this, we must allow for due process.

The Compassionate Predator That Respects Boundaries

A sexual predator is someone who commits sexual assault or other sex-related crimes repeatedly. But the problem here is the definition of sexual assault. If we use the Policy set forth by MLB, then Bauer is a sexual predator. But there is an obvious disconnect that Bauer’s case opens up in the Policy. If someone consents to something, has the action done to them, then asks for it to be done to them again and harder next time, that seems like informed consent. Whether this is a sexual perversion or deviancy that is preferred reading material for many people, or if anyone wants to associate this type of behavior with sports activity is inconsequential. There are some people in our society that participate in it. Some may be current, former, and future ballplayers.

The Bauer case should show all of us that the MLB Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy is flawed. The Policy leaves players with this type of sexual deviancy vulnerable to scam artists and extortionists. Bauer’s case is not the type where two partners set boundaries and one partner violated those boundaries. He likely would have been arrested if there was any sort of evidence that he did that. But there was not. The accuser’s testimony does not show that. So the police attempted to help the accuser by setting up a recorded phone call between her and Bauer, but the call helped Bauer more than it hurt him.

The Rob Manfred and Trevor Bauer Situation

Manfred and Bauer go way back. Bauer has been very outspoken for years about the use of “sticky stuff” in baseball. At least as far back as 2018, he has been complaining that it is unfair. The League knew it was going on–everyone did. However, Bauer called it out when no one else would; starting in 2018. He never slowed down either. Fabian Ardaya wrote about it in 2021 for The Athletic. In that piece, Fabian talks about how Bauer has poked and provoked Manfred. Bauer demanded that the league enforce this rule and stated that 70% of pitchers are using sticky substances.

When the League finally decided to begin enforcement of the old rule, Bauer made fools of them on TV. As Fabian pointed out, Bauer directly said he could increase his fastball RPM by around 300 with Pelican Bat Wax. He said that in 2019. That was about the time, in August 2019, that the spin rate on his fastball rose by about 300 RPM. He rode that “tops in baseball” spin rate straight to a Cy Young award in 2020. Then, the Sunday after the League informed managers that they’d actually be suspending pitchers in violation of the rule, his spin rate dropped. It dropped 223 RPM on average while velocity remained pretty constant. Bauer’s point had been made. His performance did not change, however. He was still dominating the batters with double-digit strikeouts per game.

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Manfred and Bauer, Change and Curve

So, Bauer and Manfred have had a mostly, if not fully, negative relationship for years and years. Bauer seems to regularly get the best of Manfred while exploiting his flaws. Manfred obviously does not like this. Manfred is the attorney, knows the rules, saw the claim, and knew Bauer had no way out because the Policy was there for all players and Bauer violated it–whether the accuser’s claims are legitimate or not.

Bauer knows the rules too but wants them enforced and is outspoken about that fact. So when Manfred saw that Bauer was violating a policy, Manfred finally had his opportunity to really stick it to Bauer and he pounced on it–regardless of the veracity of the claims.

The Big Dodger Decision

There have been reports of players in the clubhouse supporting Bauer and wanting him back. Also, there have been reports of some players in the clubhouse not wanting him back. There were some online polls done that had a slight majority of fans wanting him back for 2023. Bauer himself said that the Dodgers have recently told him that they wanted him back for the 2023 season in his statement.

Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY has since offered a refutation to Bauer’s tweet, however. He states in his article that the Dodger representatives only met with Bauer to offer him an opportunity to change their minds because their minds were already made up to sever ties with Bauer. According to the article, the Dodgers were seeking signs of remorse, regret, or some sort of apology, but Bauer offered nothing like that. In a response to Bauer’s above tweet, “Two Dodgers officials vehemently denied to USA TODAY Sports that they conveyed those sentiments to Bauer.”

Further, the article goes on to state that the Dodgers knew that Bauer would never pitch for them again once he was placed on administrative leave in July 2021 by Major League Baseball. “They simply had to wait for the District Attorney of Los Angeles County and MLB’s investigations to conclude,” according to the article. If this is true, then the Dodgers absolutely did not offer Trevor Bauer due process. They offered Trevor Bauer the appearance of due process, which is not the same thing. The article literally argues that the Dodgers knew they were going to get rid of Bauer due to allegations made against him, no matter what the outcome of those allegations. Is that due process?

Potential Reasons to Sever Ties with Bauer

The Dodgers decided to cut ties with one of the best pitchers in the game, whom they need, and whom they are paying over $22M in 2023. There are few rational reasons for doing this. One is that they live in Los Angeles, which is the Mecca of cancel culture. In this day and age, the loudest run the narratives. The Dodgers didn’t want to be canceled, boycotted, or whatever else. Another is that there were possibly enough players in the clubhouse, or it was the most important people in the clubhouse that didn’t want him back. No one has answered, nor probably will, answer that.

A third option is that the Dodgers saw something in the arbitrator’s report that they did not like. There were reports that the Dodgers were asking for the arbitrator’s report Thursday, the day prior to designating Bauer for assignment. It’s also possible that the Dodgers weighed some or all of those options together, or perhaps there is another option.

Urias’ Past Could Have Led to DFA

It’s possible that the Dodgers did not want to keep both Urias and Bauer on the roster. The Dodgers may have been worried about the negative optics of the media bringing up Urias’ past and hammering it home repeatedly immediately following the return of Bauer to the Dodgers rotation. Urias has had no issues since his incident, however, so there is no reason to continually hammer both him and the Dodgers about it unless he does something to give people a reason to bring it up. It is only mentioned here because it is related in this instance.

The Dodgers don’t have a super long relationship with Bauer, who is already a polarizing figure, or reason to stick their necks out for him. And they certainly don’t want a reputation for hiring domestic abusers. They did not have any problem keeping Urias when he got arrested, but that was just before cancel culture started getting huge. Before people started losing their livelihoods for saying or doing the wrong thing. Also, Urias has been in the Dodgers organization since he was a teenager. Regardless, it is sad to see an innocent man lose tens of millions of dollars and acquire a reputation based on a failed attempt at a setup for a big payday by falsely accusing him of crimes–if that is what is taking place here, and it seems to be.

The New Trever Bauer Situation Precedent

This move by Manfred and the League has set a new precedent. You can get suspended for being falsely accused of something. When the police won’t arrest you, the DA refuses to file charges, and the facts do not even add up, you can still lose your livelihood. A person can threaten to falsely accuse a player of a crime to extort money. That is what it seems like this woman’s goal was. Trevor Bauer stood firm in his denial of wrongdoing. The police agreed. The judge agreed. The DA agreed too. However, none of that matters because Manfred can still take millions from you. Teams can lose millions paying a player to try and beat them. And all because of what?

  • January 21, 2023 – We updated this article to include a reference to the USA TODAY article.

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