Trevor Bauer is reinstated immediately as the arbitrator reduces the suspension

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An arbitrator reduced Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer’s two-season suspension Thursday, resulting in the immediate reinstatement of the 2020 National League Cy Young Award winner.

Arbitrator Martin Scheinman reduced Bauer’s unpaid suspension from 324 games to 194, Major League Baseball announced. Bauer is cleared to return for the start of the 2023 season — 144 games after he was suspended without pay — but his salary will be prorated so that he is effectively unpaid for the first 50 games.

The reduced suspension, which will cost Bauer an estimated $37.5 million in salary, is still the longest in the seven-year history of MLB’s domestic violence policy, trumping pitcher Sam Dyson’s 162-game ban in 2021. Bauer was the first player to appeal a suspension under the policy.

Scheinman’s decision is the end of the latest chapter of a legal saga that has spanned 18 months for Bauer, much of which he spent on the offensive against his accusers, and is a mixed result for MLB. It suspended Bauer in April after three women publicly accused him of sexual assault. After Bauer appealed, Scheinman examined MLB’s case against him in confidential, months-long proceedings.

“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,” MLB said in a news release. Citing arbitration confidentiality, MLB declined to comment further.

Bauer has denied committing sexual assault and has accused the women of extortion. Bauer’s representatives did not respond to a request for comment, but on Twitter, his agent, Rachel Luba, shared a statement from her and Bauer’s lawyers: “While we are pleased that Mr. Bauer has been reinstated immediately, we disagree that any discipline should have been imposed. mr. Bauer looks forward to his return to the field, where his goal remains to help his team win a [World Series].”

In an earlier tweet, Bauer wrotein part, “Can’t wait to see y’all out at a stadium soon!”

From earlier Thursday: As Trevor Bauer fights for his career, his accusers fight back

Thursday’s decision shifts the onus of Bauer’s future to the Dodgers, who per MLB’s rules concerning players coming off the restricted list have two weeks — until Jan. 6 — to decide whether to place him on their roster or release him. The 2023 season was slated to be the final one of a three-year, $102 million contract Bauer signed with Los Angeles ahead of the 2021 season. He turns 32 in January.

In a tweet, the Dodgers said“We have just been informed of the arbitrator’s ruling and will comment as soon as practical.”

A spokesperson for the MLB Players Association, which had represented Bauer in his appeal of the suspension, declined to comment.

In 2021, a woman sought a restraining order against Bauer in a Los Angeles court, alleging that he choked her unconscious and punched her during sex. Two other women then made similar allegations against Bauer in stories published by The Washington Post. He most recently appeared in the major leagues in June 2021.

The arbitration hearing proceeded in secrecy mandated by MLB’s agreement with the players union. In an article published earlier Thursday, The Post detailed proceedings that were as in-depth as a trial, including roughly two dozen witnesses and reams of evidence.

At least two of Bauer’s accusers testified against him in the hearing. One of the women said that, before her testimony, Bauer’s investigator called her acquaintances and asked them about her sex and dating life in what she considered an effort to intimidate or embarrass her. Records reviewed by The Post showed Bauer’s penchant for legal retaliation — he sued one of his accusers — was a central concern for MLB during its investigation and the arbitration hearing.

Among the materials at issue in the arbitration hearing: the police recording of a phone conversation between Bauer and one of his accusers. On the call, Bauer appeared to acknowledge hitting the woman during sex. “I don’t feel like I hit you that hard, you know?” he said during the call.

From April: As MLB suspends Trevor Bauer, a new accuser speaks out

Bauer publicly denied striking the woman. The law enforcement investigation of Bauer ended with no charges in February, when prosecutors said following “a thorough review of all the available evidence” that they “were unable to prove the relevant charges beyond a reasonable doubt.”

A judge denied his initial accuser, a California woman, a restraining order. Bauer filed a lawsuit against her in April, days before MLB’s announcement of his two-year suspension, claiming she lured him into increasingly rough sex with her — including in text messages in which she urged him to give her “all the pain” — to “lay the groundwork for a financial settlement.”

The woman denied any such plot and is pursuing a counterclaim for sexual battery. The Post typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault or domestic violence unless they ask to be named.

One of Bauer’s accusers who testified against him in the hearing — a woman from Columbus, Ohio, who alleged in an article in The Post that he repeatedly choked her unconscious and slapped and anally penetrated her without her consent during a years-long relationship — said Thursday night that she expected his suspension to be reduced “to some degree.”

“So I’m not surprised,” she added. “I’m just glad that his suspension was upheld, and even though he’s coming back way sooner than I think he should be, I hope that this sends a message that this kind of behavior isn’t okay and that there’s a precedent set about how this will be handled in the future.”

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