The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Should major-league teams take a flier on Trevor Bauer?

Former Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer once made $32 million per year for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now he’s offering his services to any major-league team for the league minimum salary of $740,000.

So, how did that come about?

While playing for the Dodgers in 2021, Bauer was accused of domestic violence and suspended by Major League Baseball in June of that season for 194 games. Even though he was never charged with a crime, the Dodgers ended up releasing him in January 2023. Bauer spent last season pitching in Japan.

The 32-year-old Bauer showed he still had “stuff” while pitching for Yokohama in Japan, compiling a 11-4 record and 2.59 ERA. He averaged over 10 strikeouts per nine innings. His stats demonstrated he could be a viable option for pitching-starved major-leaguer teams in the United States.

With Bauer’s interest in returning to the big leagues for the 2024 season, the question now becomes: should a major-league team give him a second chance in baseball, given the baggage he brings?

First, there’s the risk that Bauer really isn’t up to his previous form as when he left the Dodgers in 2021. The overall talent level in the Japanese Professional League doesn’t match that of MLB. Yet it would seem that a one-year contract for $750K doesn’t represent an unusual risk for a team desperately needing pitching. Big-league teams take risks on Double-A and Triple-A prospects all the time.

Second, and probably the most significant factor, is the potential negative fallout a major-league team would incur from fans and media who will view his return as an acceptance by the team, or MLB itself, of his questionable moral character.

To a lesser degree, there’s the concern for how the tainted player would be accepted by his teammates. However, history shows that teammates, as displeased as they may be about the moral character of a player, only really care about the bottom line—winning.

There are at least three other recent cases of players involved in some type of domestic violence or sexual abuse that have been on MLB’s radar. As with Bauer’s case, MLB’s responses have been to uphold its domestic violence policy through suspensions, even though criminal charges weren’t levied against the players.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias, who finished third in the Cy Young Award voting in 2022, was put on administrative leave by MLB last September for an alleged domestic violence incident. He had previously been suspended for 20 days by MLB after an arrest for suspicion of misdemeanor domestic battery, but he was not ultimately charged. The disposition of Urias’s most recent situation by MLB remains to be seen.

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Roberto Osuna was suspended for 75 games in the middle of the 2018 season for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy. It involved his assault of the mother of his three-year-old son. The charges against Osuna were dropped, and the Houston Astros subsequently traded for Urias for the balance of the 2018 season. The situation created a bad look for the Astros.

The Tampa Bay Rays’ best player Wander Franco hasn’t played since August 12, 2023, when he was alleged to have a sexual relationship with a 14-year old in 2022. He remains under investigation by Dominican Republic authorities and could face charges. MLB hasn’t taken a position on Franco yet, but it seems reasonable he will suffer some type of suspension from MLB even if charges are ultimately dropped.

Getting back to Bauer, I believe one of the MLB teams will pick him up, willing to absorb any flack they might receive. Will he perform to the same level before his suspension? We’ll find out in a couple of months.

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