In the continuing eyesore that is the saga of Trevor Bauer, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has spoken.
Now it’s time for the Dodgers.
The announcement Tuesday that Bauer will not face criminal charges in relation to the sexual assault allegations against him swings open the door to an unlikely but nonetheless untenable scenario.
Bauer is currently not on administrative leave because it’s the offseason. He’s currently not on suspension because Major League Baseball was waiting for the completion of the criminal investigation. He’s theoretically available to return to work as soon as baseball goes back to work and, well, the Dodgers have a desperate need for starting pitchers and ...
They wouldn’t ... they couldn’t ...
They’d better not.
It’s time for the Dodgers to do what they should have done months ago. It’s time for them to publicly disown Trevor Bauer by promising their fans and community he will never again take the mound in a Dodgers uniform.
It's one sentence. It speaks volumes.
Trevor Bauer will never pitch for us again.
They haven’t yet said it. They could have already said it. Why won’t they say it?
It isn’t because they still owe him $64 million for the next two seasons and might want to recoup their misguided investment, is it?
Or surely, it’s not because their rotation has been whittled to Walker Buehler and Julio Urías and they could be waiting for a former Cy Young Award winner to drop back into their laps, is it?
Both assertions seem absurd, even for a team that ignored Bauer’s questionable character when signing him in the first place. Even for an ownership group that values winning over everything, there seems no reasonable scenario in which they would want to shred all credibility by keeping this guy.
So, what is it, then? Why the wait? Why hasn’t he already been canceled?
They can’t claim they’re following some serpentine process from Major League Baseball or its union. The Washington Nationals were mired in the same process last summer and it didn’t stop them from dropping the hammer.
The Nationals’ Starlin Castro was facing domestic violence allegations but had not yet been suspended by the league. No matter, the Nationals were clear about the standards of their clubhouse culture.
“The process is the process," general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters in July. "You asked the question, 'Do I plan on having Starlin Castro back?' and I said I do not plan on having him back.''
Rizzo even held a team meeting in which he said he told players, “We've got to do better. We've got to do better at this. The whole world has to do better at this. And it's unacceptable and it's zero tolerance here and I don't care how good of a player you are, it's zero tolerance and we're just not going to put up with it."
The Dodgers sent a memo to staff saying they do not condone violence against women, but they have said little directly about Bauer. They issued a statement Tuesday indicating they would make no further comments until MLB completes its investigation.
There has been no indication that the Dodgers are going to put up with the alleged actions of Bauer, who hasn’t pitched for them since June 28, shortly before a San Diego woman obtained a temporary restraining order against him after they engaged in what the accuser said was violent, nonconsensual sex.
The accuser provided medical records that showed she had suffered “assault by manual strangulation” and an “acute head injury.”
While Bauer’s agents have said the encounter was “wholly consensual,” in court testimony she said, “I did not consent to bruises all over my body that sent me to the hospital and having that done to me while I was unconscious.”
The temporary restraining order eventually was lifted by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman, who said the woman was “not ambiguous about wanting rough sex in the ... first encounter and wanting rougher sex in the second encounter.”
Major League Baseball has kept Bauer on paid leave since the allegations surfaced. Now that there is no criminal case, it can more easily interview Bauer as one of the final steps in an investigation that probably will result in a suspension that could range from 15 days to an entire season.
That still shouldn’t stop the Dodgers from publicly cutting him. In fact, that’s exactly how the Nationals handled it last summer after it was announced that Castro was being suspended for 30 days.
“We take all allegations of abuse and harassment very seriously," the Nationals said then in a statement. "We fully support the Commissioner's decision and will be releasing Starlin Castro upon the completion of his suspension.”
On every step of Castro’s sordid journey, the Nationals had their fans' backs. The Dodgers, however, continue to leave their fans a little lost amid lingering dismay over the club’s first comments on the situation.
After Bauer was initially placed on administrative leave in July, Dodgers president Stan Kasten seemed to trivialize the matter when sharing with reporters the advice he gave manager Dave Roberts before his pregame video conference.
“I told him, ‘They’re going to talk about Trevor Bauer,’” Kasten told reporters. “Just say, ‘Can we please talk about foreign substances?’”
Rob Manfred, MLB commissioner, publicly scolded Kasten for his remarks.
Meanwhile, in August, Bauer came under further scrutiny with a Washington Post report of an Ohio woman claiming she was forcibly punched and choked by Bauer during a sexual encounter. The agents for Bauer say those allegations are “categorically false.”
In all these accounts, it's becoming increasingly intolerable to read the references to Bauer. In every story, he’s still, “Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer.”
When are the Dodgers going to announce plans to fix that?
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.