Plaschke: Should the Dodgers bring back Trevor Bauer? No. Not in a million years

Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer throws a pitch against the Rockies during a spring training game in Glendale.
Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer delivers during a 2021 spring training game against the Colorado Rockies. Bauer has been reinstated, but the Dodgers need to make sure he never returns to their clubhouse. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers have 14 days to decide whether the suddenly eligible Trevor Bauer can rejoin their sagging rotation and improve their thinning team.

It should take them only 14 seconds.

No. No. No.

The Dodgers have the stunning chance to add a former Cy Young winner to a depleted roster that in recent weeks has lost one MVP, four All-Stars and a clubhouse cornerstone.

What are they waiting for?

A thousand times, no.

It shouldn’t be an option, a question, or even a passing thought. The decision should be made by the time you begin reading this column. The announcement should be made by the time you finish it.

The Dodgers have given Trevor Bauer his unconditional release.

The Dodgers should not be swayed by Thursday’s news that Bauer’s suspension for violating baseball’s policy on sexual assault and domestic violence had been reduced from 324 games to 194 games.

The Dodgers should not be lured by arbitrator Martin Scheinman’s ruling that, even though Bauer has served only 144 days of the suspension, he is eligible to be reinstated immediately with 50 days of docked pay.

The Dodgers should not be enticed by that empty spot on their mound, that empty locker in their clubhouse, or the empty offseason during which they have clearly fallen behind the big-spending San Diego Padres.

It should not matter that every bit of baseball sense says bring him back.

Every bit of humanity says not on your life.

“We have just been informed of the arbitrator’s ruling and will comment as soon as practical,” the Dodgers said in a statement late Thursday afternoon.

It’s already practical. Their comment should already be written.

Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer prepares to throw against the Colorado Rockies on March 1, 2021.
Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer prepares to throw against the Colorado Rockies on March 1, 2021. (Rob Tringali / Getty Images)

C’mon, Dodgers, just say it, loud and proud in a manner befitting your role as both a community leader and touchstone.

The Dodgers have given Trevor Bauer his unconditional release.

No, they shouldn’t spend the next 14 days trying to trade him for three prospects and some chump change. It’s unseemly, and surely nobody will immediately touch him anyway.

By releasing him they will owe him his final year’s salary minus those 50 games, but it will be the best $22.5 million they ever spent.

Bottom line, the biggest chunk of the original suspension for Bauer’s alleged involvement in sexual assault allegations by three women was upheld.

The arbitrator didn’t rule the entire penalty unjust. On the contrary, he validated 194 games worth.

So, if the Dodgers brought back Bauer, they would essentially be rehiring a player who just served the longest sexual assault and domestic violence suspension in the seven-year history of that policy. They also would be bringing back the only suspended player during that time with more than one accuser.

Is that an accomplishment worthy of the franchise of Jackie Robinson? Is that how the Dodgers want to follow a season during which they celebrated integrity by unveiling a statue to Sandy Koufax and holding a memorial service for Vin Scully?

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

The Dodgers already compromised their history by acquiring Bauer in the first place, his signing in February 2021 coming complete with red flags surrounding his internet bullying of women.

The league placed him on investigative leave just four months later after a San Diego woman asked for a restraining order against him while alleging he had sexually assaulted her.

A judge later denied the restraining order, ruling that the woman was, “materially misleading” in her request. The Los Angeles County district attorney also declined to file criminal charges.

But last spring, baseball suspended Bauer after two other women made similar allegations against him in the Washington Post. Bauer has denied wrongdoing in every instance and became the first player to appeal a suspension under the sexual assault and domestic violence policy. This led to the arbitration hearing, which featured testimony from two of the three women and included, according to the Washington Post, a 28-minute phone conversation between Bauer and his San Diego accuser in which Bauer admitted hitting her.

The Dodgers shouldn’t need to hear it to act on it. The Dodgers should ask themselves one question for which there is one answer.

Did this player just serve a record-long suspension for alleged violence toward women?


See ya.

The Dodgers need to think about how they handled the recent free agency of shortstop Carlos Correa, who was in the middle of the Houston Astros’ 2017 cheating scandal that cost the Dodgers a World Series championship.

They desperately needed him, but they didn’t pursue him, because they rightfully knew their fans would never accept him.

This is Correa to the nth degree. Certainly, Bauer will always have his allies who claim he should be welcomed back to the team because he was never charged with a crime, but that support has dwindled with every accusation, and here’s guessing the public venom unleashed upon his first appearance in a Dodgers uniform would be historic.

Bauer clearly doesn’t agree.

“Can’t wait to see y’all out at a stadium soon,” Bauer tweeted Thursday.

Does he mean Dodger Stadium?

Not in a million years.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.