We're used to seeing Trevor Bauer steal all the headlines in Major League Baseball. Nonetheless, it was often because of something he said or how well he pitched. This time, however, it's for not-so-good reasons.
Bauer is involved in a domestic assault scandal that isn't going to go away any time soon. Albeit the judge denied his demandant's request for a restraining order, MLB and the MLBPA can -and will- carry their own investigation to determine a punishment.
Due to the league's policy on domestic abuse, it's not a matter of whether Bauer will be suspended. The real question is for how long. But the worst part of the Los Angeles Dodgers is that they still have to pay him. How much? Well, it could rise up to $80+ million.
ESPN: Trevor Bauer May Not Play Again
ESPN's Jeff Passan broke down the numbers and the situation. Right now, people around the league expect Bauer to be made an example of and be handed a historically long sanction. And even if he appeals, he may not even play again.
"The details of the allegations, Bauer's reputation as a difficult personality, teams' fear of public backlash and a climate in which allegations of sexual assault have far deeper repercussions than at any time before are like four walls converging on Bauer," Passan said.
"At this point, the answer to that question is far down the road. The DA's office must make its decision. Then MLB. Then, presumably, an arbitrator. And, after all that, if Trevor Bauer still wants to pitch in the major leagues, if he still has any fight left, it might still not be enough," he added.
Bauer Could Still Cost The Dodgers Dozens Of Millions
But perhaps the aspect of this situation that worries the Dodgers the most is the uncertainty about a potential suspension. They will have to pay him his full salary for this season and, should he continue to be in paid leave, they're forced to keep filling his pockets.
According to Passan, the league could "keep Bauer on administrative leave ad infinitum" or try to suspend him without pay. The latter, however, would be tricky. As for a suspension, some around the league believe that he'll be out of MLB for at least one year, with a two-year suspension being the likeliest scenario.
"He signed a three-year, $102 million free-agent contract in February. It includes, sources said, a $10 million signing bonus that already has been paid out in two installments, $8 million in salary paid during the regular season and a $20 million lump-sum deferral due Nov. 30. If a suspension drops before that payment, the Dodgers could conceivably withhold it, but Bauer would challenge that and argue the money owed him was for time on administrative leave, during which he is paid like an active player.
The next two seasons are the source of even more intrigue. Bauer can opt into a $32 million salary for 2022. At the end of next year, he can opt into a $32 million salary for the 2023 season -- or take a $15 million buyout and become a free agent.
When Bauer signed, it was assumed he would pitch for the Dodgers in 2021 and 2022, then use the opt-out to hit free agency, having made $85 million over two seasons. Now, depending on the result of any appeal -- or the possibility that he somehow can rescue his damaged reputation -- him opting into that final season might be a fait accompli.
If Bauer is suspended for an entire season, the benefit for the Dodgers goes beyond saving tens of millions of dollars in salary. For that season, Bauer will not count against the team's competitive-balance tax payroll -- saving the Dodgers from a $34 million hit on the number that determines their luxury tax penalty and perhaps allowing them to pursue higher-priced and higher-valued free agents from whom they might shy away otherwise."
No one can tell for sure what's going to happen with the reigning Cy Young award winner. But, right now, it doesn't seem like we're going to see any more of his sword celebrations. At least for the foreseeable future.