Will Trevor Bauer ever pitch again? What's next for him, the Los Angeles Dodgers and MLB

Shawn Holley is one of Trevor Bauer’s lawyers and he speaks to the media following the judge's rejection of a woman's request to have a permanent restraining or. (0:23).
Editor's Note: This article contains graphic descriptions about sexual assault allegations.

His future, both legally and professionally, has been highly speculated in Major League Baseball since Trevor Bauer's last appearance for the Los Angeles Dodgers. A California judge rejected a woman’s request for a temporary restraining order against Bauer. The Pasadena Police Department also sent its investigation into the woman’s claims that Bauer had sexually assaulted them to the district attorney. This could provide some clarity in the short-term.

It might also be temporary.

Sources close to the sport said that they expect the league will impose a substantial suspension against Bauer, regardless of whether he is charged with any crime. Officials at the front office are also unsure if Bauer, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, will be returning to the Dodgers' field after being accused of abuse by multiple women.

ESPN interviewed more than 20 sources, including owners, lawyers and players, to help determine Bauer's future. Although Bauer's camp and MLB declined to comment, it emerged that Bauer will continue to be a prominent figure in MLB, even if he isn't in uniform. He'll protest the discipline and try and save his career and money.

There are many questions about the fallout of Bauer's allegations by a California woman and an Ohio woman who sought a protective order against Bauer. These questions are answered in this attempt.

What is the most recent?

After a three-month-long investigation into a sex assault in which a woman claimed that Bauer punched and choked her, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office is reviewing information from Pasadena police. After a four-day hearing, a judge ruled that Bauer was not likely to cause any harm to petitioner or have contact with her. MLB placed Bauer on administrative leaves. This designation was extended seven times and is still in effect today. Bauer is not allowed to play while on administrative leave but is still being paid.

What's next for Bauer?

Based on evidence collected by Pasadena police, the district attorney will decide whether Bauer should be charged. According to the woman, Bauer attacked her during sex at Bauer's Pasadena residence on April 21 and May 16. Bauer's lawyers have stated that the two had consensual, rough sex. The judge in the case for a restraining order said that the women's injuries were "terrible" and added that she was clear about wanting to have rough sex with the first encounter. Prosecutors could still pursue criminal charges against Bauer despite the civil case being resolved. It is not clear when the DA's office plans to make its decision.

What could this mean for his baseball career?

The league will be more complicated if the DA brings charges. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended Ferguson Jenkins, a Hall of Famer, for failing to cooperate with the league's investigation after he was arrested for drug possession in 1980. A tribunal overturned the suspension claiming that Jenkins was limiting his ability to defend against criminal charges by cooperating in the league's investigation. Commissioner Rob Manfred has imposed discipline on players whose criminal cases are still pending. However, lawyers claimed that the large public interest in Bauer’s case has caused the league's to proceed conservatively, even though there was a lot of evidence from the civil hearing.

MLB and the MLB Players Association have a joint domestic violence and sexual assault policy that governs how the league handles such investigations and discipline. This policy allows Bauer to be placed on administrative leave or suspended without pay. Manfred feels that he cannot impose discipline before the resolution of a criminal case or legal proceeding. However, allowing the Player play while the investigation is ongoing would cause serious and irreparable damage to the Club or Major League Baseball. The Commissioner can suspend the Player with pay until the matter is resolved.

If Bauer is not charged, the league will continue with its disciplinary procedures.

How does this process look?

Since the California woman received the temporary restraining orders in June, the league's division of investigations has been seeking its own set of facts. The investigation is ongoing. MLB will pursue Bauer's case even if he is not charged.

Will Bauer speak to the league?

It would probably be a good idea for him to. Bauer's inability to speak could lead to an adverse conclusion -- that Bauer isn't talking means that he is drawing a negative conclusion. Bauer could also tell the league his story in his own words. This is something he didn't do in the restraining order case in which he invoked Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions.

You have spoken about discipline and penalties as if they were guaranteed. Is that true?

The question is not whether Trevor Bauer will get suspended based on the rules of the joint policy, past precedent, and the belief that many sources are familiar with the process. It is a matter of how long.

Bauer could be sanctioned by the league under the domestic violence and sexual assault sections of the policy.

Domestic violence is defined as any pattern of abusive behavior in an intimate relationship used by one partner for power or control over the other. It also includes verbal violence and stalking. End of paragraph: "... A single instance of abusive behavior within an intimate relationship... could subject a Player under this Policy to discipline."

According to the policy, sexual assault can refer to "a variety of behaviors", including nonconsensual sex acts, attempted nonconsensual, or completed sexual acts. Inferring lack of consent can be done when someone uses force, harassment or threat of force, threatens adverse personnel, takes disciplinary action or any other coercion or when the victim is asleep or incapacitated, is unconscious, or legally incompetent to consent.

It is a matter of time Bauer could be suspended. How long?

According to the expectation, the league will seek a suspension of at most one year. Multiple sources suggest a two-year suspension. As its investigation continues, the league has not made any decisions and has been secretive about possible discipline. Sources said that even though there is no indication from the league as to where it is leaning, a combination of factors led them to believe that this suspension could be the longest for domestic violence since August 2015, when the policy was implemented.

What are the different factors?

A strict interpretation of the policy suggests that the league could seek out a variety of avenues to suspend players. According to the California woman, Bauer punched her and choked her with her hair. Bauer admitted to punching the woman in the buttocks in a telephone conversation taped by police. Although Bauer's other claims are not supported, this admission could be considered "a complete nonconsensual sexual act".

According to The Washington Post, an Ohio woman claimed that Bauer had punched and choked them during sex. This left her with bruises. According to The Post, Bauer sent the woman a message that stated: "I don’t want to spend time in prison for murdering someone." That's what would happen to me if you saw me again. After Bauer's lawyers threatened legal action and accused her of extortion, the woman applied for a protection order in 2020. She withdrew that request. Bauer denied the allegations and his legal team challenged the veracity the alleged text.

According to her lawyer, the woman from Ohio, just like the woman in California, worked with MLB during its investigation.

None of the 13 MLB players who were previously subject to discipline under this policy have been publicly charged with multiple violations by multiple women. Although Bauer's camp has raised questions about the evidence in the cases, photographs provide more evidence than in past cases that resulted in discipline. The details of the allegations -- the California nurse who examined the woman claimed that Bauer punched her in the vagina, causing her to bruise -- are so graphic that it has been deemed the most important case that MLB has ever adjudicated.

However, if the DA does not see sufficient evidence to support charges, a judge ruled that the initial request for a restraining or was'materially misleading'. The civil case also showed that the woman had left out text messages which could have undermined her credibility. Why would MLB seek punishment?

This is an important point. The standards in civil and criminal cases are different from those of private businesses. Bauer is still liable under the joint policy even though the judge has dissolved the temporary restraining orders and declined to issue permanent ones. A prosecutor not pursuing pressing charges does not absolve Bauer.

MLB has the power to impose any discipline it chooses. The league bears the ultimate burden of proof, however.

It is worth noting that 10 of the 13 MLB players who were suspended under this policy weren't publicly charged. Three of the 13 players who were suspended by MLB under this policy still face criminal liability. Hector Olivera, an ex-Braves infielder, was suspended for 82 consecutive games without pay. He was later sentenced to 10 days imprisonment. Police are still investigating two other cases -- Roberto Osuna from the Houston Astros and Jose Torres from San Diego Padres -- who were both suspended for 75 games. Osuna was given a one year peace bond in Toronto and Torres was sentenced in Arizona to two years probation.

Which is the longest penalty that has been imposed under this policy?

Most recent: MLB suspended reliever Sam Dyson on March 5th, 2021 for 162 games in the regular season and the playoffs.

What does the league have to say about discipline?

Manfred stated that he believes the All-Star Game's policies were appropriate and robust. They are more comprehensive and protective than the policies in most industry businesses. The policies I believe are appropriate for administration. We have always conducted the most thorough investigation of any allegation that we have received. Our department of investigations is significantly larger and has more expertise than any other time in the history. When we find credibility to an allegation we send a message about the things we won't tolerate.

Bauer will appeal a suspension?

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The policy was complied with by all 13 players who were suspended. Bauer could break the streak.

Bauer's propensity for fighting was evident long before the allegations. He ridiculed people via social media. He was unhappy with the salary offers at Cleveland and went to arbitration twice. Manfred was the target of his public rage. His methods won him admirers and angered others.

Bauer challenged the temporary restraining orders granted to the California woman immediately. His team attacked her credibility. He also tweeted a stream text message from Ohio woman to try to delegitimize him after The Post reported the story. Bauer is a regular offensiver. Bauer has maintained that he engaged in rough consensual sexual sex from the beginning. If Bauer appealed and wanted to base his argument on the league's attempts to litigate how players behaved in the bedroom, he would do so knowing that MLB "shall bear the burden of proving the Player committed a Covered Act," as per the policy.

Multiple lawyers stated that Bauer will not only be ready to end the relationship, but he'll also do it with a judge who already said that the California woman was clear about wanting rougher sex in their first encounter.

One person who is familiar with Bauer's strategy said that "This will be a huge war." He needs to be vindicated. He'll fight it to the end. He might even die."

What is an appeal?

Bauer could file a grievance if he doesn't agree to a suspension, and MLB delivers one. The arbitrator is a joint union-league employee and can be fired by any party. Bauer's lawyers and the MLBPA would argue his case. MLB would present its case. The arbitrator would make a decision.

Are there appeals to players?

Sometimes. In August 2013, MLB suspended Alex Rodriguez for a record 211 games after he possessed and used performance-enhancing drugs over multiple years. Rodriguez appealed the decision and was allowed to continue playing for the rest of the season.

Bauer would be banned from playing if the league suspended him during the 2021 season. However, he could appeal. Domestic violence policy does not provide for an automatic stay to appeal a PED suspension.

Rodriguez was eventually allowed to play the entire 2014 season, 162 games. Ryan Braun's positive PED Test was the most recent suspension to be overturned. This was due to a chain of custody issue. Braun was later ordered to serve 65 games in exchange for his involvement in Biogenesis, which is the same lab that gave Rodriguez PEDs.

Sources familiar with grievance processes say it is unlikely that a suspension for domestic issues would be overturned. However, because this would be the first appeal in a case of domestic violence, anything is possible.

Where are the Dodgers?

They declined to comment, but they continue to pay his full salary.

What amount will they have to pay?

This depends on whether there is a suspension. Bauer's contract structure however, makes it a unique case.

In February, he signed a $102 million contract as a free agent for three years. Sources claim that it includes a $10 million signing bonus, $8 million salary during the regular season, and a $20,000,000 lump-sum deferral due Nov. 30, as well as a $102 million signing bonus. The Dodgers can withhold a suspension if it is not paid by that date, but Bauer will challenge that claim and claim the money was due for his administrative leave during which he is compensated like an active player.

There is even more intrigue in the next two seasons. Bauer has the option to opt in for a salary of $32 million for 2022. Bauer can choose to opt in for a salary of $32 million for 2022, or he could take a $15m buyout and become an unpaid agent.

Bauer signed with the Dodgers in 2021, and 2022. He would then pitch for them in 2021-2022. After making $85 million over two seasons, the opt-out allowed him to go free agency. He might opt in for that final season depending on how appeals go or if he can save his reputation.

The Dodgers will benefit from Bauer being suspended for the entire season. This is in addition to the salary savings of tens of millions. Bauer won't be counted against the competitive-balance-tax payroll for that season -- saving the Dodgers a $34million hit on the number that determines the luxury-tax penalty. This may allow them to pursue higher-priced, higher-valued agents who might not otherwise be available.

Can't the Dodgers just end his contract?

Right now, not. This policy allows the league to exercise its discretion to discipline players unless Manfred transfers it the team. That's unlikely considering a suspension is still possible.

The Dodgers can theoretically terminate a suspension that has been imposed. It doesn't happen very often. In 2008, Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon grabbed Ed Wade by his neck and tore him to pieces. In 2010, Chacon was fined $1 million by an arbitrator.

Some players have been terminated in cases where they refused to pay their guaranteed money.

If the suspension is not extended enough, it's possible for the Dodgers to terminate the contract. If Bauer is not going to wear their uniform again and the Dodgers are on the hook for $32,000,000 in 2023, then the legal battle might shift from MLB against Bauer to Los Angeles Dodgers against Bauer.

What do the players think?

The Dodgers have more or less made a move inside their clubhouse. Bauer has been gone almost two months. They have accepted that they will win without Bauer.

However, there were a few veterans who did not want Bauer to be near them again. A few players would have welcomed Bauer back. Although the players weren't unanimous in their judgement, it was clear that Bauer would like to be back at some point.

Bauer's attorneys named two other major league baseball players she had sex with while Bauer was being cross-examined by other teams. Shawn Holley, one Bauer's lawyers, stated that she was not asking her this question because she is slut-shaming her. However, scores of players didn't see it that way. They didn't understand why Bauer's female partners were relevant to his defense and thought he had broken a code by having his lawyers drag other players names into his case.

What role will Bauer play in this year's World Cup?

No.

Bauer will almost certainly remain on administrative leave if the DA doesn't make a decision about charges before the season ends.

MLB would extend his administrative leave if he is charged or use the policy's paid-suspension provisions if he is convicted.

He will be suspended if he is not charged. Bauer can appeal, but he will be prevented from returning to the country if he does not receive an immediate stay.

What time will Bauer play?

Nearly everyone who was asked the question gave an answer that was similar to: Never again in MLB.

Now, that could be prisoner-of-the-moment talk. Many things can be changed. It takes just one team to convince Bauer that the consequences are worth it. Five major league players today were suspended once under the policy. It is not a long time.

The details of the allegations, Bauer’s reputation as a troubled personality, teams’ fear of public backlash, and a climate where allegations of sexual assault have much deeper repercussions that at any other time in history are like four walls surrounding Bauer. Sources said that despite being a great pitcher, they struggled to see a way back into the good graces and support of the league. Rodriguez was pariah, but this happened after his playing career. PED use is often forgotten. As if Spider Tack were affixed to someone, domestic-violence accusations attach themselves to Rodriguez.

The answer to this question lies far down the road. The DA must then make its decision. Then MLB. Then, it is possible, an arbitrator. After all this, Trevor Bauer might still want to pitch in major leagues.

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