What had evolved into an inevitability became an official ruling Friday, when Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association agreed to extend Trevor Bauer's administrative leave through what remains of the 2021 season, a league official told ESPN.
Bauer, who has been away from the Los Angeles Dodgers since MLB first began a separate investigation on July 2, will remain on administrative leave for the rest of September and all of October. MLB is not expected to decide on a potential suspension until the offseason, people with knowledge of the situation have said.
As part of a statement, Bauer's co-agents, Jon Fetterolf and Rachel Luba, wrote: "Today Mr. Bauer agreed to extend his administrative leave through the playoffs in a measure of good faith and in an effort to minimize any distraction to the Dodgers organization and his teammates. He continues to cooperate with the MLB investigation and refute the baseless allegations against him."
Bauer has been accused of sexual assault by a San Diego woman who stated in a request for a temporary restraining order that he choked her unconscious on multiple occasions, sodomized her without consent and punched her all over her body over the course of two sexual encounters at his Pasadena, California, home on April 22 and May 16, the latter of which left her with injuries that prompted medical attention. The woman said the encounters were initially consensual -- including a request to be choked unconscious, as depicted in messages between her and Bauer -- but stated during a lengthy testimony that Bauer took it too far.
An L.A. County Superior Court judge denied the woman's request for a permanent restraining order on Aug. 19, ruling that Bauer did not pose a continual threat and that the woman's injuries were not the result of anything she verbally objected to before or during the encounters. Eight days later, the Pasadena Police Department concluded an investigation that spanned more than three months and turned evidence over to the L.A. County District Attorney's Office, which will ultimately determine whether to prosecute Bauer.
Bauer's leave had previously been extended eight times, all in increments between seven and 13 days. A more prolonged extension was largely the result of there not being enough time on the calendar for him to return to pitch and the DA's Office not expected to make a determination in the foreseeable future. No new information has surfaced in the investigation, a source said. Given the uncertainties on the criminal side, Bauer did not testify during the four-day hearing last month and likely has not spoken to league officials. MLB would like to speak with Bauer about the incident before determining a potential suspension.
The Washington Post published a story on Aug. 14 stating that another woman, based in Ohio, accused Bauer of punching and choking her during sex over the course of a three-year relationship and that she filed a restraining order petition last summer, only to withdraw it six weeks later. Bauer's attorneys called that woman's allegations "categorically false" and have firmly denied the more recent assault allegations, as well.
When asked prior to Friday's game against the San Diego Padres whether Bauer will ever pitch for the organization again, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, "I have no idea. I'm just kind of focusing on the guys in the room."
"I don't think it's changed anything from how we've gone about it," Roberts said in response to an earlier question about what the latest ruling means for the Dodgers. "That's more on the legal side. So I think for us, just focusing on the baseball side, it hasn't really affected the guys in the clubhouse."
Bauer, 30, won the National League Cy Young Award as a member of the Cincinnati Reds in 2020 and signed an unprecedented three-year, $102 million contract with his hometown Dodgers in February. The deal includes two player options and pays him a salary approaching $40 million in 2021, making him the sport's highest-paid player.
Bauer went 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 107 2/3 innings over the course of 17 starts before being placed on administrative leave. His absence pushed the Dodgers to trade for three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, who came over from the Washington Nationals alongside shortstop-turned-second baseman Trea Turner. Scherzer, who has a 1.05 ERA in seven starts since joining the Dodgers, fronts a Dodgers rotation that also includes Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin and Clayton Kershaw, the latter of whom is expected back from the injured list on Monday.
Bauer will continue to be paid his agreed-upon salary while on administrative leave and can earn as much as $47 million in 2022 (a $32 million salary plus a $15 million opt-out for 2023), though a potential suspension would affect what the Dodgers ultimately owe him.