Trevor Bauer wants back in majors: 'I don't believe that I was given a lifetime ban'


Trevor Bauer does it all here, in a two-story facility he owns within a nondescript office park. He works out in a spacious gym downstairs. He lets other major leaguers train here, at no charge. He runs his video and merchandise businesses from the second story, with a raft of employees scurrying among the boxes, racks and computers.

This is the last place in the world he wants to be right now.

It’s morning. Pitchers have reported to spring training, at camps as close as eight miles from here. Pitchers are throwing bullpen sessions, throwing batting practice, and fielding ground balls. No team has lost a game. Optimism reigns.

Not here, though. Every major league team needs pitching. No major league team wants Bauer.

He last pitched in a major league game three years ago, for the Dodgers. He completed his suspension — the longest ever issued for violating the MLB domestic violence policy — 14 months ago.

“I don’t believe,” he told me, “that I was given a lifetime ban.”

He pitched in Japan last year. He could do the same this year.

Bauer, 33, would rather pitch in the majors. He has no offers, even after volunteering to sign for the major league minimum salary. He would like to make his pitch to the owner of a major league team, if only he could meet with one.

So I met with him, with the idea that I would purport to be a major league owner, asking the questions I thought an owner might ask and hearing what Bauer wanted to say. You can read a transcript of the interview here.

“I have served my time,” he said. “Do I not deserve an opportunity to come back?”

Four women have alleged Bauer has sexually assaulted them. He has never been charged with a crime. After its own investigation, MLB suspended him. After an arbitration hearing that lasted for months, the suspension was upheld, although its length was reduced.

Bauer denies all the allegations and maintains he did nothing to warrant a suspension. He has shared a video of his initial accuser, Lindsey Hill, taken hours after an alleged assault, in which he said she was “smirking at the camera … without any mark on her face.” Hill has released pictures that she said showed facial bruising on the morning in question.

In terms of exploring his perceived exile from MLB, I wanted to revisit the spring of 2022. At that point, Bauer could have maintained his position but accepted a suspension — perhaps negotiating a lesser one — and could have said he would put the issue behind him and focus on returning to the majors.

Instead, he sued six parties, all for defamation. Hill countersued, for battery and sexual assault.

“I would not be OK with not standing up for myself and fighting to prove my innocence, fighting to be treated fairly,” he said.

He added: “I realize that kept the allegations front and center. That may have done more harm to my career than good. I’m not sure. That was my decision. It was larger than baseball for me.”

He did not win any of the defamation suits, although he did get a clarification from the Athletic.

And, after Hill countersued and Bauer’s lawyers argued the case should be thrown out since he had already been cleared of sexual assault when Hill was denied a restraining order, the judge hearing the countersuit declined and ruled: “The [restraining order] proceedings did not necessarily decide that Bauer did not batter or sexually assault Hill.”

Bauer and his advisers dispute that conclusion, in part since the judge in the restraining order hearing had ruled: “She [Hill] set limits without fully considering all the consequences and [Bauer] did not exceed the limits.”

But the judge hearing Hill’s countersuit never would have had occasion to make his ruling had Bauer’s defamation suit not triggered the countersuit, which was settled without a trial.

So, considering all those lawsuits kept all those allegations in the spotlight for another year and a half without Bauer getting much out of them, were they worth it?

“That’s a good question,” Bauer said. “What is fighting for your innocence against false accusations worth? It’s hard to value.

“Was it worth it from a financial perspective? Of course not. I spent millions of dollars for this whole process — probably tens of millions of dollars, actually — fighting for my innocence. Would I have been able to live with myself — long-term, outside baseball — had I not done it? Unknown. Probably not. I don’t know how I’m going to feel when I’m 45, 50, 60, however many years old. …

“I didn’t expect to win any of these lawsuits. Defamation suits are extremely hard to win. But I had to make a decision, as a person, about what I was willing to accept and what I was willing to live with.”

For now, he is on the outside looking in, asking for a second chance, vowing not to repeat the mistakes he says he has identified.

He says he has learned from reckless behavior in his personal life, and from unnecessary confrontations with the commissioner and media members. He believes an owner should consider a pitcher who can pitch but also can help young pitchers learn and can attract new fans through his video content and merchandise platforms.

“For zero incremental dollars over what you would have to pay that roster spot, there is not a single person in this entire world that would be better for that position than me,” he said, “because of all the additional benefits that I bring — not even considering the fact that I am going to be really good.”

He brings additional risks too, including a checkered history on social media. It only takes one owner to say yes, but that has been the case for more than a year.

“Maybe the truth of the matter is that I’ve made an egregious enough mistake that I’m not going to get that privilege, I’m not going to have that opportunity,” he said. “If that’s the case, that f— sucks.

“If associating with the wrong people and being accused of stuff that you didn’t do means that I can’t go back to playing Major League Baseball, if making a couple mistakes along the way on social media and in how I responded to people means I can’t go play Major League Baseball, that’s not for me to decide. It’s for the owners to decide. I hope that’s not the case.”



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