Trevor Bauer might fight leave and try to return to Dodger Stadium on Sunday

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 12: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on after giving up a hit.
Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer looks on after giving up a hit against the Texas Rangers on June 12. The MLB commissioner might have to levy a suspension by Saturday night or risk Bauer showing up at Dodger Stadium on Sunday. (Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

Could Trevor Bauer try to rejoin the Dodgers as soon as Sunday?

On Wednesday, a league source not authorized to speak publicly about the issue said the commissioner’s office and players’ union had agreed to extend the leave for Bauer through April 22. The leave previously was set to extend through Saturday.

However, according to people familiar with the matter, Bauer is exploring whether there is in fact a binding agreement in place.

A spokesman for the league declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the players union.

There is a written agreement between the league and the union, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The person said the league considers that agreement binding and said Bauer would not be eligible to play until the leave expires.

If Bauer does take the position that the most recent extension to his leave is not binding, Commissioner Rob Manfred might have to levy a suspension by the end of the day Saturday or risk Bauer showing up at Dodger Stadium on Sunday.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he had "no idea" if Bauer will try showing up to Dodger Stadium on Sunday. He said he couldn't comment further on the matter.

During the last nine months, Bauer has been under investigation by the league for a possible violation of its policy on sexual assault and domestic violence.

A determination by the league — whether it comes this week or later — would set the stage for another determination, one by the Dodgers: Will they allow him to pitch for them again?

Of the 15 players previously suspended under the policy, all reached negotiated settlements in which they waived the right to appeal. The negotiated suspensions ranged from 15 to 162 games.

Bauer has missed 99 games while on leave from the team — the entire second half of the regular season last year, plus 12 postseason games and this year’s first six games — and he could ask that his time on leave be counted toward all or part of a potential suspension.

But that presumes Bauer would be willing to consider a negotiated suspension, and Bauer has maintained he has done nothing wrong. Bauer could appeal any suspension to an independent arbitrator.

Manfred also has the option to let the Dodgers determine any discipline.

Upon the completion of any suspension, or upon a decision not to suspend him, the Dodgers then would choose whether to reinstate him. They could cut him and pay him the balance of his $102-million contract, or cut him and fight an almost certain grievance if they try to void his contract and argue he should not be paid because of personal conduct language in the contract.

The Dodgers paid Bauer $38 million last year. His contract calls for him to be paid $32 million this year and $32 million next year. Players are not paid while suspended.

Bauer has not pitched for the Dodgers since June 28, the day before a San Diego woman accused him of sexual assault during two encounters. In the interim, with Bauer on paid leave through the end of last season and the start of this one, a judge denied the woman’s request for a restraining order against him, and the Los Angeles County district attorney declined to file criminal charges against him.

Under baseball’s sexual assault policy, Manfred is empowered to suspend a player for violating the policy even if he is not charged with a crime.

The judge in the restraining order hearing ruled that “the only evidence of anything which happened while [the woman] was unconscious was having been hit on the butt,” despite her allegations of other injuries sustained while unconscious. The judge also said her injuries, as depicted in photographs, were “terrible,” even if she was “not ambiguous about wanting rough sex in the … first encounter and wanting rougher sex in the second encounter.”

The woman has provided medical records in which doctors diagnosed her with “assault by manual strangulation” and “acute head injury” following the second sexual encounter with Bauer. The pitcher’s legal team has contested the accuracy of the medical assessment. Bauer has said that, when she left his home after each encounter, “she certainly did not look anything like the photos that were later attached to her family court declaration and circulated by her lawyers to the media.”

Although the district attorney said he could not prove any charges beyond a reasonable doubt, Manfred would not need to meet that standard and would evaluate Bauer’s conduct against a league policy that defines a nonconsensual sexual act in part as “when a person uses force … or when the victim is … unconscious or legally incapable of consent.” The policy states that “a single incident of abusive behavior … may subject a player to discipline.”

Said Bauer: “I never assaulted her in any way, at any time.”

If he is suspended, he could argue in an appeal that he believes the league is trying to equate unconventional but consensual sex with sexual assault.

The judge in the restraining order hearing said the woman had been “materially misleading” in her written testimony to the court.

However, on April 4, the judge denied Bauer’s demand for access to her cellphone records, which his attorneys claimed could have shown how the woman implemented “a plan to seek rough sex so she could later seek to profit.” Her attorneys, who previously had denied the woman had sought fame or profit, claimed the demand was simply a way to continue harassing the woman months after the restraining order had been denied.

It is unknown what information the league might have obtained from its meetings with an Ohio woman who made similar allegations against Bauer, as reported by the Washington Post, and agreed to cooperate with MLB investigators. Bauer has dismissed those allegations as “categorically false.” None of the 15 players previously suspended under the policy has been publicly associated with more than one alleged victim.

Staff writer Jack Harris contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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