Former Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer has signed a one-year contract with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, where he'll rejoin professional baseball for the first time in nearly two years following a long suspension and release from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The 32-year-old Bauer last pitched in June 2021, when a San Diego-area woman accused him of sexually assaulting her. He was placed on administrative leave for the remainder of the season and eventually suspended for 324 games by Major League Baseball. An arbitrator in December 2022 reduced the suspension to 194 games and reinstated Bauer, and the Dodgers released the pitcher in January, eating the final $22.5 million of his three-year, $102 million contract.
Bauer will still get his full salary from the Dodgers in addition to his BayStars salary.
"I can't tell you how excited I am to be playing for the BayStars this year," Bauer said in a video posted by the team announcing the deal. "Playing in the NPB has always been a dream of mine, and I can't think of a better organization to do it with."
Every team in MLB could have signed Bauer for the major league minimum but opted against it. He will join the BayStars, typically a middle-of-the-road team that last won a championship in the 12-team league in 1998.
Bauer denied the allegations of sexual assault by the woman, who said he choked her and hit her during rough sex. A California judge denied the woman's attempt to get a permanent restraining order against Bauer, saying she "set limits without fully considering all the consequences." At least two other women accused Bauer of sexual abuse, and the three spoke with MLB for its investigation, which led to the record-long suspension.
In the past, Bauer has expressed interest in potentially playing in Japan. His Twitter bio includes his name spelled out in Japanese characters, and in 2020, when he officially reached free agency, he tweeted: "I'll consider offers from any MLB or NPB team."
Multiple other Japanese teams considered signing Bauer for the upcoming season, according to sources. Former MLB All-Star closer Roberto Osuna, who received a 75-game suspension under the league's domestic violence policy and was eventually released by the Houston Astros, played for the Chiba Lotte Marines last season and re-signed with them over the winter.
Bauer, the third overall pick in the 2011 draft, was regarded as one of the best pitchers in baseball before the accusations sideswiped his major league career. In his first and final season with the Dodgers, he posted a 2.59 ERA with 137 strikeouts and 37 walks in 107⅔ innings, and batters hit .182/.258/.374 against him. Over his 10-year major league career, Bauer is 83-69 with a 3.79 ERA, 1,416 strikeouts and 491 walks over 1,297⅔ innings.