The final act in the drama that stars Trevor Bauer in a completely empty theater will feature his appeal of Major League Baseball’s 324-game suspension for his violation of the joint domestic violence policy.
But the longer this whole thing drags out, the longer the Los Angeles Dodgers will be impacted, and fans might be staring down the barrel of another drawn-out battle.
According to the latest reports via The Athletic, Bauer’s appeal hearing is set to begin next week on May 23, but “could stretch into later this summer, and possibly beyond.” On the surface, it’s just more of a headache for the organization, which got a measly 17 starts out of the right-hander before his inevitable character flaws/concerns came back to bite him.
From a baseball perspective, though, this could affect what the Dodgers do at the trade deadline. At the moment, Bauer is on the league’s restricted list and is not being paid. Every game he’s missed since the league announced the suspension will count toward his suspension. At the very least, that’s saving the Dodgers money in the short term.
But again, without a clear resolution in sight, perhaps the Dodgers’ financial situation is impacted yet again. The team paid Bauer from the beginning of last July until the end of April without him throwing a single pitch. Now, the uncertainty of the length of his suspension during his appeal could create more problems.
Could the panel of three arbitrators who will make the final final decision on Bauer’s situation alter that, though? Even if they don’t, will the Dodgers have a definitive answer before the Aug. 2 trade deadline? If they don’t, will they take the plunge and risk hitting the “Cohen Tax” payroll threshold at $290 million?
Trevor Bauer’s appeal process could still hurt the Los Angeles Dodgers
Perhaps the Dodgers don’t care about the money at all and were only ever concerned about the legal implications of cutting ties with Bauer prematurely. Here’s the latest from MLB insider Jon Heyman:
"“The Dodgers are seen as likely to cut embattled pitcher Trevor Bauer and take the financial hit — almost exactly $60 million is left on his then-record $102 million deal — should he win a big enough reduction in his two-year ban that time still remains on his contract.”"
Let’s say the panel rules that Bauer’s time spent on administrative leave should count toward his suspension. That would mean the Dodgers would be on the hook for his 2023 salary, which could affect their spending plans in next year’s free agency. As for this year’s trade deadline, it could affect what players they chase based on their contracts/financial commitments beyond the 2022 season.
As it stands, the Dodgers will need a lot at the deadline if they’re to survive this season and make a World Series run. Their starting rotation and bullpen are taking injury hits left and right (Clayton Kershaw, Blake Treinen, Andrew Heaney) in the early going, while the offense is dealing with far too many underperforming bats (Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Gavin Lux).
At the end of the day, it’s the Dodgers, and they don’t really pull any punches when it comes to spending money and upgrading their roster. But every team has its limitations, and it just so happens Bauer’s unconscionably large (and undeserved!) contract could continue to impact such crucial decision making.
It could all end up being a whole lot of nothing, but it’d be irresponsible not to keep this in the back of your mind over the next few months.