2021 hindsight: Inside the Trevor Bauer disaster and how the Dodgers got here

2021 hindsight: Inside the Trevor Bauer disaster and how the Dodgers got here

7/25/2021 3:04:00 PM

2021 hindsight: Inside the Trevor Bauer disaster and how the Dodgers got here

Upon signing Trevor Bauer, the Dodgers cited a thorough vetting process; now Bauer's career as a Dodger is in limbo. How a $102-million risk went wrong.

MLB doesn’t need to wait for criminal investigation to end before deciding whether sexual assault allegations warrant suspending Dodgers pitcher Trevor BauerAll of which raises the question: Will Trevor Bauer throw another pitch for the Dodgers or any other major league team? And, more consequentially, why was he here in the first place?

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::a Dec. 16 storyby The Los Angeles Times’ Jorge Castillo, who wrote that the team “would likely entertain adding Bauer only if he is open to a short-term deal.”That possibility gained steam on Jan. 20, when ESPN’s Jeff Passan tweeted that the Dodgers were “monitoring the market” for Bauer and “could be a player depending on the price.”

Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer sits with manager Dave Roberts in Washington on July 1. Bauer was placed on administrative leave the next day.(Julio Cortez / Associated Press)Starting pitching didn’t appear to be a need last winter. The rotation looked stacked with Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin. Veteran left-hander David Price was returning after opting out of the 2020 season because of coronavirus concerns. headtopics.com

But the Dodgers’ hand was being forced by the upstart San Diego Padres, who had gone on an offseason binge, signing their electric shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to. They bolstered their rotation by acquiring Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove; the Dodgers, winners of eight straight NL West titles, did not want to lose an arms race to their division rivals.

AdvertisementBauer would come with a cost beyond his salary. He had a history of harassing and bullying women online, mocking transgender people and spreading conspiracy theories. Still, the Dodgers, enamored with Bauer’s durability and dependability on the mound, continued their pursuit.

Then came a Feb. 4 USA Today report that Bauer had agreed to a deal with the Mets.“I went to bed [that] night really bummed and thinking it wasn’t going to work out,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said.Two people with knowledge of Dodgers clubhouse dynamics said that a majority of Dodgers players do not want Bauer back.

By the next morning, however , the Dodgers had hammered out the final details of athree-year, $102-million contractthat would pay Bauer $38 million this season and included $32-million player options for 2022 and 2023.Friedman touted the team’s vetting process, saying background checks of Bauer included conversations with former teammates, coaches, clubhouse personnel and athletic trainers from Arizona, Cleveland and Cincinnati, where Bauer previously played. He added that he and team president Stan Kasten had multiple conversations with Bauer about his use of social media. headtopics.com

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Full coverage: Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer accused of sexual assaultDodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer is on paid administrative leave after being accused by a woman of sexual assault. Here’s our coverage.“The most important thing,” Friedman said at a Feb. 11 news conference at Dodger Stadium introducing Bauer, “is every teammate we talked to, all the feedback we got from every organization he was with, was not only incredibly positive in terms of the type of teammate he is but also in terms of the impact that he makes on each organization.”

Bauer focused on local ties. The Santa Clarita Hart High graduate and former UCLA star chose the Dodgers over the Mets, he said, because he wanted to help his hometown team win a second consecutive World Series.Trevor Bauer, pitching for UCLA in the College World Series in 2010, attended Hart High in Santa Clarita and grew up as a Dodgers fan.

(Nati Harnik / Associated Press)Advertisement“I used to sit in the bleachers right over there as a kid, watching [batting practice] with my dad and listening to Vin Scully on the radio,” Bauer said during his introductory news conference. “I’ve been a longtime Dodger fan and couldn’t be more excited to be here with the group we have.”

He steered clear of more difficult subjects that day, notably his online behavior, vowing only to be better.“Everyone makes mistakes in the past — I try to learn from them as quickly as I possibly can,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people to try to understand other peoples’ perspectives, and I’m doing my best to be better in all walks of life. I am committed to being better on social media, to being better on the field, in the clubhouse, and in life in general.” headtopics.com

::The Dodgers were confident that Bauer would conform to a team-first culture cultivated by such veterans as Kershaw, third baseman Justin Turner and outfielder Mookie Betts. And the initial signs suggested clubhouse acceptance and buy-in.“I think our clubhouse does a really good job of taking in all types of personalities, different people, and getting the best out of them,” Kershaw, a 14-year veteran and three-time NL Cy Young Award winner, said early in spring training. “And we expect that with Trevor. We’re going to let Trevor be himself and do what he’s continued to do over the course of his career.”

Kershaw and Buehler said their conversations with Bauer focused primarily on pitching — how to process and utilize advanced statistics, how to attack certain hitters and different grips with which they might experiment.“I’m excited to talk to him about … different ways to get the most out of what you’re doing,” Kershaw said in spring training. “I think he’s going to make us all better.”

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Betts, too, was more excited about Bauer’s credentials than he was concerned about his accompanying baggage.“I mean, obviously, you get a Cy Young winner and you’re going to be excited,”. “But all those things are ... he is who he is. You know what you’re getting, so I don’t really worry about it. It doesn’t bother me.

Advertisement“He goes out there and competes, he gets wins … I don’t know what more you can ask for. He’s got to be Trevor Bauer. You can’t try to turn him into someone else.”Bauer went through spring training and the first three months of the regular season relatively incident-free. He gave the Dodgers All-Star results — quality starts in 14 of 17 games, 11.5 K/9 and a 1.003 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).

“He has conversations with one guy, with four guys,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said as recently as May 31. “He’s different, but he likes to talk baseball, and I love it, because typically, as you guys have seen, our guys don’t sit around and talk.”

It was a social-media exchange that triggered the series of events that led to Bauer’s sexual-assault allegations.After giving up one run and three hits in six innings ofa 5-2 loss at San Diegoon April 18, Bauer, according to the court filing, exchanged private messages with a woman who had tagged him in an Instagram post. Three days later, on April 21, the two met at Bauer’s Pasadena home.

In the restraining order request, the woman wrote that a sexual encounter that night was “consensual and non-threatening” until Bauer “began putting his fingers down my throat in an aggressive manner,” and soon thereafter “wrapped my hair around my neck and choked me.”

The two continued to communicate over the next three weeks. In a May 9 text-message exchange that Bauer’s representatives provided to The Times, the woman told Bauer that she had “never been more turned on in my life” by him choking her. “Gimme all the pain. Rawr.”

The Times has not been able to authenticate messages cited by the woman in the restraining order request or by Bauer’s attorney.Hernández: The Dodgers never should have signed Trevor BauerThe Dodgers unnecessarily signed a pitcher with a history of making troublesome decisions when they already had the best team in baseball.

The woman met Bauer at his home again on the night of May 15, after Bauer had thrown seven scoreless, two-hit innings, struck out 10 and walked none in a 7-0 win over the Miami Marlins.AdvertisementBauer, the woman wrote, again wrapped her hair around her neck, choked her and caused her to lose consciousness. This time, she wrote, Bauer “began punching my face,” and then “punched me hard with a closed fist to the left side of my jaw, the left side of my head, and both cheekbones.”

She wrote that she drove back to her San Diego home and awoke the next day with a split lip, a swollen jaw and cheekbones, two black eyes, “over 10” scratches on her face, and bruises on her gums, buttocks and vagina.In the next 18 hours, she underwent two medical examinations, one that diagnosed her with “an acute head injury and assault by manual strangulation,” and sat for interviews with detectives from police departments in San Diego and Pasadena.

On Friday, May 21, the woman wrote that she drove to the Pasadena Police Department to record a “cold call” with Bauer in which she asked Bauer what he did when she was unconscious. The transcript of the phone call has not been publicly released.That night, Bauer threw one of his best games of the season, giving up one unearned run and two hits and striking out 11 in 6 1/3 innings of a 2-1 win at San Francisco.

Trevor Bauer gestures to the crowd after being removed from a game against the Giants in San Francisco on May 21.(D. Ross Cameron / Associated Press)“The more you see him,” Roberts said of Bauer after the game, “you just love the compete, the execution, the ability to make pitches when he needs to.”

Read more: Los Angeles Times »

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Could any vetting process honestly have predicted the things he’s accused of? I mean I guess they could have interviewed AgentRachelLuba and asked her how she liked it but she stood to gain from this. No process would tell a team he liked to strangle women during sex. Bauer is innocent Bauer's baseball career is not going well...

If he stays Dodgers will lose more in ticket sales and protests. Let him go and eat the contract. So nothing new. Easy to say this in hind-site but you and WE,even those that hated him enjoyed the Ws. Looks like it doesn’t matter if he’s found guilty either way he’s done. And that seems wrong too. Glad to read this.

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