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Dodgers' Trevor Bauer reinstated after MLB suspension reduced from 324 to 194 games

The Dodgers right-hander had been suspended over allegations of sexual assault from multiple women.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 28:  Trevor Bauer #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during the game against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on June 28, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Giants 3-2. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Trevor Bauer has been reinstated after an arbitrator reduced his suspension from 324 games to 194 games, MLB announced Thursday.

It has been more than a year since Bauer last appeared on an MLB mound, having been placed on paid administrative leave on July 2, 2021, after a woman accused him of choking her to unconsciousness and assaulting her during a sexual encounter earlier that year. Two more accusers have since come forward.

Bauer has denied the allegations, calling all encounters with the women consensual and pursuing legal action against them and news outlets he has accused of defaming him. No criminal charges have been filed against him.

The administrative leave led in April to the unprecedented suspension for two full years' worth of games, without credit for time served while on paid leave. The arbitrator opted to count that leave as part of Bauer's suspension and dock him 50 games' worth of pay in 2023 to cover the amount he was paid while sidelined.

Even with the reduction, the punishment remains the longest suspension ever received by an active MLB player for sexual assault or domestic violence. The total cost of Bauer's suspension will be $37.5 million of the $102.5 million contract he signed after the 2020 season.

Hours after the decision was announced, Bauer's legal team released a statement expressing happiness about his reinstatement and insisting that he didn't deserve any punishment:

"While we are pleased that Mr. Bauer has been reinstated immediately, we disagree that any discipline should have been imposed. That said, Mr. Bauer looks forward to his return to the field, where his goal remains to help his team win a World Series."

Where does Trevor Bauer go from here?

Under the original terms of his suspension, Bauer wouldn't have been eligible to play in an MLB game until about a month into the 2024 season. The shortening of his suspension and conversion of his paid leave mean he is immediately allowed to play with no restrictions.

The big question, at least as far as MLB is concerned, is if the Dodgers or any other team have interest in putting Bauer on the mound.

Per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers have until Jan. 6 to decide whether to add Bauer to their active roster or release him. Either way, they're on the hook for his $32 million salary minus 50 games’ worth of pay, which comes out to roughly $22 million.

The Dodgers acknowledged the decision soon after it was released but declined to provide any information about their plans for the future.

There have been past reports that the Dodgers are not likely to bring Bauer back, no matter what they're paying him, with rumors of little support for him inside the clubhouse. Still, the arbitration decision has hung over the team for months, with the potential to free up tens of millions of dollars. That didn't happen, complicating an already messy offseason.

Should the Dodgers release Bauer, it's unclear if any team will be interested in adding him. On the mound, Bauer holds a career 3.79 ERA across 10 seasons. He won the NL Cy Young Award after the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

MLB's full statement on Trevor Bauer decision

“Today, the neutral arbitrator selected by MLB and the MLBPA affirmed that Trevor Bauer violated Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy.

“After an exhaustive review of the available evidence the neutral arbitrator upheld an unpaid suspension of 194 games. As part of the decision, the arbitrator reinstated Mr. Bauer effectively immediately, with a loss of pay covering the 144 games he was suspended during the 2022 season. In addition, the arbitrator docked Bauer’s salary for the first 50 games of the 2023 season (i.e., the period covering March 30, 2023 to May 23, 2023). While we believe a longer suspension was warranted, MLB will abide by the neutral arbitrator’s decision, which upholds baseball’s longest-ever active player suspension for sexual assault or domestic violence.

“We understand this process was difficult for the witnesses involved and we thank them for their participation. Due to the collectively bargained confidentiality provisions of the joint program, we are unable to provide further details at this time.”

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