PHOENIX – The Los Angeles Dodgers planned to cut ties with Trevor Bauer all along.
They never wanted to see him in a Dodger uniform again.
Still, they thought they owed him the courtesy of speaking to him directly.
Dodger executives flew to Phoenix on Thursday to meet privately with Bauer to decide if he deserved another chance, multiple high-ranking officials told USA TODAY Sports
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the private nature of the conversation.
The Dodgers owe Bauer $22.5 million this season anyway, so they decided it was worth finding out whether he deserved any consideration of remaining in the organization.
It was actually the first time the Dodgers had spoken to Bauer in the 18 months since he was placed on paid administrative leave on July 2, 2021.
Dodger officials declined to go into details of their conversation, but privately revealed that they didn’t hear any remorse, apologies or anything in the slightest from Bauer to change their mind.
They reconvened in Los Angeles, and decided Friday morning that Bauer would never again put on a Dodger uniform.
The Dodgers crafted a statement and publicly revealed their decision Friday afternoon by designating Bauer for assignment. He will be placed on unconditional release waivers Thursday at 2 p.m. ET, and become an official free agent next Friday, Jan. 13.
The Dodgers’ decision appeared to have caught Bauer by surprise. He said he was led to believe after his meeting with Dodger officials that he would be welcomed back into the organization.
“While we were unable to communicate throughout the administrative leave and arbitration process, my representatives spoke to Dodgers leadership immediately following the arbitration decision,’’ Bauer said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports and other news outlets. “Following two weeks of conversations around my return to the organization, I sat down with Dodgers leadership in Arizona (Thursday) who told me that they wanted me to return and pitch for the team this year.
“While I am disappointed by the organization’s decision today, I appreciate the wealth of support I’ve received from the Dodgers clubhouse. I wish the players all the best and look forward to competing elsewhere.’’
Two Dodgers officials vehemently denied to USA TODAY Sports that they conveyed those sentiments to Bauer.
“The Dodgers organization believes that allegations of sexual assault or domestic violence should be thoroughly investigated, with due process given to the accused,’’ the Dodgers said in a statement. “From the beginning, we have fully cooperated with Major League Baseball’s investigation and strictly followed the process stipulated under MLB’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. Two extensive reviews of all the available evidence in this case – one by Commissioner (Rob) Manfred and another by a neutral arbitrator – concluded that Mr. Bauer’s actions warranted the longest ever active player suspension in our sport for violations of this policy. Now that this process has been completed, and after careful consideration, we have decided that he will no longer be part of our organization.’’
This is a franchise that broke the color barrier with the signing of Jackie Robinson in 1947. It celebrated the life of Glenn Burke, the first openly gay player, last summer during their annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night last summer. Former tennis star Billie Jean King, an advocate of gender equality, is a minority owner of the team.
So the Dodgers weren’t about to destroy their legacy and image over a person who was accused by three different women – one in California and two in Ohio – of assault during sexual encounters that allegedly turned violent.
Once Bauer was placed on administrative leave in July 2021 by Major League Baseball after a San Diego woman filed a restraining order against him that was eventually denied, the Dodgers knew then he would never pitch for them again. They simply had to wait for the District Attorney of Los Angeles County and MLB’s investigations to conclude.
They didn’t have the right to release Bauer until his grievance was heard, with the decision announced on Dec. 22 with the reduced suspension. They waited until after the holidays and for their ownership to convene before seriously discussing the proper approach to reach out to Bauer before finalizing their decision.
Really, the Dodgers’ best hope was to trade Bauer. They spent time determining whether any team would be interested after he was reinstated by an independent arbitrator on Dec. 22 that reduced his original 324-game suspension to 194 games.
Yet, even with the Dodgers willing to pay nearly all of his remaining $22.5 million salary, seeking almost anything in return, the silence was deafening.
No one wanted him.
And just like that, 23 months after the Dodgers celebrated his signing to a three-year, $102 million contract, the worst personnel blunder in their decorated franchise history is over. They wound up paying Bauer $64.5 million for just 17 starts and 107.2 innings, where he went 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA.
The last pitch he threw in a major-league game was June 28, 2021, a 3-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium.
Will he ever throw another pitch in the big leagues?
Will any team swallow their morals for the sake of talent?
Does any baseball team dare risk alienating their fanbase, and potentially dividing their clubhouse, simply for a few extra victories at the bargain basement price of the minimum $720,000?
Go ahead, ask the Dodgers.
The Dodgers, who could use another front-line starter, just paid him $22.5 million to go away.
And never come back.
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