It had been a quiet afternoon round Chavez Ravine.
For a lot of Thursday, it was enterprise as traditional for the Dodgers entrance workplace. Most membership personnel had been getting ready for the upcoming vacation weekend, and a few executives had already scattered with Christmas Eve two days away.
Workforce officers weren’t anticipating any main information — particularly concerning the standing of Trevor Bauer’s attraction of a home violence suspension, a choice the membership didn’t consider could be identified for a minimum of a number of extra weeks, in accordance with folks with data of the scenario unauthorized to talk publicly.
By 5 p.m. PST, nonetheless, every thing modified.
Main League Baseball introduced an impartial arbitrator decreased Bauer’s authentic 324-game suspension to 194 and made the pitcher instantly eligible, thus giving the Dodgers 14 days to both launch him or put him again on their roster.
Workforce officers had solely been alerted concerning the ruling roughly half an hour prior, folks with data of the scenario mentioned, and a few employees didn’t find out about it till MLB’s public announcement.
“We have just been informed of the arbitrator’s ruling,” the Dodgers mentioned in a press release, “and will comment as soon as practical.”
Ever since Bauer was suspended in April, the Dodgers acquired little details about the place his attraction course of stood.
Nonetheless, some workforce officers had been bracing in current weeks for the suspension to be decreased. Although Bauer hadn’t performed for the Dodgers since June 2021, when allegations towards him first surfaced, and his authentic suspension was set to cowl the rest of his three-year, $102-million contract with the workforce, the likelihood lingered that he could be reinstated for 2023.
Now, it’s a actuality.
And what precisely comes subsequent stays unclear.
Throughout his attraction, the prevailing business perception was that the pitcher would by no means take the mound in a Dodgers uniform once more.
But, as of Thursday evening, membership executives had been nonetheless discussing how they might proceed, in accordance with folks with data of the scenario, and will wait to make a ultimate choice till nearer to the Jan. 6 deadline to both launch Bauer or activate him.
The workforce want to collect extra details about exactly what led to the arbitrator’s choice. However confidentiality guidelines in MLB’s sexual assault and home violence coverage, which was collectively negotiated by the league and participant’s union, make it unlikely the Dodgers will study a lot, if something, past Thursday’s assertion or obtain a duplicate of the arbitrator’s ultimate report.
Some factions of the fanbase might be hoping the Dodgers launch Bauer as quickly as doable (which they’ll do beginning Friday morning, as soon as Bauer is formally reinstated by the league).
The arbitrator did affirm that the pitcher violated the league’s sexual assault and home abuse coverage. And even at 194 video games, Bauer’s suspension is the longest ever administered within the coverage’s seven-year historical past.
However till the Dodgers formally sever ties with Bauer, his return to the workforce is a minimum of a slim risk.
The monetary affect of Bauer’s decreased suspension will even quickly start to set in.
Whether or not or not the Dodgers launch him, Bauer will nonetheless be owed $22.5 million this season. (That would drop to about $21.8 million if he’s launched and signed by one other workforce on a league-minimum wage.)
That’s lower than the $32 million Bauer was initially presupposed to make in 2023. However even that decreased quantity pushes the Dodgers’ estimated luxurious tax payroll for subsequent season, in accordance with Fangraphs Roster Useful resource database, to simply beneath $233 million — the brink at which the league begins assessing luxurious tax penalties.
After paying tax penalties the previous two years, and going through an inflated 50% tax price in 2023 for being a repeat offender, the Dodgers had beforehand appeared prone to keep beneath the $233-million tax line.
They’d freed up greater than $100 million in wage from final yr’s workforce. They’d made solely a string of modest one-year signings to date this offseason. And although their lack of spending had netted an underwhelming solid of additives for subsequent yr, the long-term advantages of probably resetting the tax now would have positioned them to spend huge once more subsequent offseason, when Shohei Ohtani is about to headline the free agent market.
Bauer’s decreased suspension might complicate any such plans.
Staying beneath the tax line might field the Dodgers out from making different wanted additions to the roster in 2023 — comparable to including extra pitching depth or a left-handed bat earlier than the tip of the winter, or buying and selling for a shortstop or bona fide ace earlier than the midsummer deadline.
However, in the event that they do cross the brink to finish their 2023 squad, the ensuing penalties may make them much less keen to pay a luxurious tax once more the next season, leaving the potential for including one other profitable long-term contract a yr from now more and more tenuous.
Bauer has continued to disclaim allegations introduced towards him by three ladies, two of whom reportedly testified as witnesses in his listening to. After his suspension was decreased Thursday, he tweeted that he “can’t wait to see y’all out at a stadium soon!”
He may not discover a heat reception at Dodger Stadium, although.
Though he was one of many workforce’s prime pitchers in 2021 earlier than his suspension, going 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 17 begins, he had additionally been a polarizing determine even earlier than being accused of sexual assault.
These allegations additionally turned the pitcher right into a pariah in his personal clubhouse. Two folks with data of the Dodgers’ clubhouse dynamics on the time, who had been granted anonymity to talk freely concerning the scenario, mentioned a majority of gamers on that 2021 workforce didn’t need Bauer again beneath any circumstances.
No Dodgers gamers have publicly come to his protection since then, both.
It’s all a part of what might make Thursday’s information reverberate across the membership for a very long time.
The Dodgers may solely have two weeks to determine whether or not or to not maintain Bauer this season. However, even after 18 months of uncertainty and hypothesis, it can seemingly take for much longer for the complete fallout of the scenario to develop into clear.
Employees author Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.