Will he stay or go? Here's what is next for Trevor Bauer and the Dodgers

Dodgers starting pitcher Trevor Bauer delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs.
Dodgers starting pitcher Trevor Bauer delivers during a game against the Chicago Cubs in May 2021. (Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

When an arbitrator truncated the suspension of Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer three days before Christmas, that opened a 14-day window for the team to decide whether to reinstate him or release him.

As of Monday, they had done neither. Under major league rules, they must decide by Friday.

As Dodgers fans await an announcement, here are some questions and answers on the team’s first big decision of 2023:

Where do the Dodgers stand?

Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer throws against the San Francisco Giants in 2021.
Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer throws against the San Francisco Giants in 2021. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The Dodgers would like to get a copy of the arbitrator’s written rationale for his decision, but that is unlikely. Although the arbitrator has delivered his decision, he has not yet delivered the explanatory report that follows. Even if he had, under baseball’s sexual assault and domestic violence policy, “the confidentiality of player information is essential to the success of this policy,” and so the league cannot disclose any details — even to the team.

Bauer is guaranteed $22.5 million this year. In considering their options, the Dodgers also could be quietly evaluating whether any other team might be willing to trade for Bauer. The other teams could wait to see whether the Dodgers release him, in which case they could sign Bauer for the league minimum of $720,000, with the Dodgers responsible for the remainder of his salary.

It is uncertain whether any other team would sign Bauer if the Dodgers released him, or would trade for him even if the Dodgers paid off most of the deal. It also is uncertain whether any team would acquire Bauer without the opportunity to meet with him first.

The Bauer decision ultimately rests with Mark Walter, the Dodgers’ chairman and controlling owner. In 2015, under Walter’s ownership, the Dodgers backed away from a proposed trade for pitcher Aroldis Chapman after allegations of domestic violence surfaced against him.

How did the Dodgers proceed with Julio Urías after he was suspended?

Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías stands on the mound in Game 1 of the NLDS against the San Diego Padres.
Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías stands on the mound in Game 1 of the NLDS against the San Diego Padres on Oct. 11. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

In 2019, Urías was investigated for domestic violence. He was not charged with a crime but was suspended by the league, and the Dodgers reinstated him after he served his suspension.

Bauer has not been charged with a crime and has served his suspension.

What else might the Dodgers consider?

Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers' president of baseball operations, right, speaks with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers' president of baseball operations, right, speaks with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. (Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)

Urías accepted his 20-game suspension and apologized for what he called “inappropriate conduct.” Bauer became the first player to challenge a suspension under the policy and wrote: “In the strongest possible terms, I deny committing any violation of the league’s domestic violence & sexual assault policy.”

Commissioner Rob Manfred and an independent arbitrator — jointly selected by the league and the union — examined the league’s evidence separately. Both men determined Bauer had violated the policy and should receive the longest suspension ever levied under that policy. Bauer’s case is the only one with more than one publicly known accuser; two Ohio women made similar allegations to the Washington Post and the league considered those as well.

Manfred issued a 324-game suspension, which would have extended into the 2024 season. The arbitrator reduced that to 194 games and allowed Bauer to return right away.

Bauer says he has done nothing wrong, so an apology likely would not be forthcoming. The Dodgers could ask him to be reflective in some way, perhaps to pledge to improve on what he said on video were “poor choices” he had made “in regards to the people I have chosen to associate with.”

On the day the Dodgers introduced Bauer in 2021, he and Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Bauer had learned from what each called “mistakes” amid allegations of using social media to harass women, spread conspiracy theories and use insensitive language.

Also, team executives spread word the Dodgers did not intend to pursue Carlos Correa, in part, for fear of a sharply divided reaction among the fan base because of his role in the Astros cheating scandal. The same executives would have to consider whether to endorse the return of Bauer despite a sharply divided reaction among the fan base.

Got any proof of that sharply divided reaction?

Yes. The Times asked readers whether the Dodgers should keep Bauer or release him, with 19,193 responses. The result: 51% to keep Bauer, 49% to release him.

How do the Dodgers players feel?

The Dodgers are introduced before Game 1 of the NLDS against the San Diego Padres on Oct. 11.
The Dodgers are introduced before Game 1 of the NLDS against the San Diego Padres on Oct. 11. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

No current player is believed to have commented publicly since the arbitrator reinstated Bauer. But the front office has been told at least some players want Bauer back, people with knowledge of the situation but not authorized to speak publicly told The Times.

In 2021, shortly after Bauer was put on investigative leave, The Times reported a majority of players did not want Bauer back. (Of the 20 players who participated in the Dodgers’ 2021 postseason opener, six remain with the team.)

Hasn’t Bauer been cleared of these allegations?

Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer delivers in the first inning against the Texas Rangers on June 12, 2021.
Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer delivers in the first inning against the Texas Rangers on June 12, 2021. (Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

Bauer was not charged with a crime, and the San Diego woman whose allegations triggered multiple investigations was denied a restraining order against him. However, when Bauer’s attorneys asserted that denial necessarily meant Bauer had not committed assault or battery, a federal court ruled the denial just meant Bauer was not a threat to harm the woman in the future.

“The state court proceedings did not necessarily decide that Bauer did not batter or sexually assault [her],” U.S. District Judge James Selna ruled in November.

How would that be decided?

That issue might have been moot had Bauer not sued six parties for defamation. One of those parties was the San Diego woman, and she counter-sued for sexual battery. A trial is tentatively scheduled for February 2024.

So can the Dodgers reinstate Bauer and say the issue has been resolved?

Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer stands on the field during a 2021 spring training game.
Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer stands on the field during a 2021 spring training game. (Rob Tringali / Getty Images)

Under the league’s authority, the investigative and discipline process for Bauer is complete.

Still, litigation continues. Five of the defamation suits are ongoing. Bauer’s attorneys have said “no settlements or cash offers have or ever will be made” to the woman, whose attorneys have said her life “has been turned into a nightmare by a powerful man who mercilessly battered her and counted on facing no consequences whatsoever for his despicable conduct.”

Bauer’s attorneys have said the woman “pursued bogus criminal and civil actions … to destroy Mr. Bauer’s reputation and baseball career, garner attention for herself, and extract millions of dollars from Mr. Bauer.”

Bauer might well level similar allegations in his official response to her counter-suit. That response is due Friday — the Dodgers’ deadline day for deciding whether to reinstate him.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.