The fake Trevor Bauer is gone, his bobblehead night canceled.
The shirt off Trevor Bauer’s back is gone, his jersey no longer available for purchase at the team store.
The clubhouse support for Trevor Bauer is gone, not one teammate agreeing to publicly offer even the mildest of affirmative testimonials, nobody even dare mentioning his name.
Every piece of evidence that Trevor Bauer ever pitched for the Dodgers is gone, save one.
He is still contractually a pitcher for the Dodgers.
That’s as crazy as it sounds, and it needs to change.
It would be enormously costly, legally difficult, and maybe impossible to actually pull off, but the Dodgers need to send the community a message about their standards by ridding themselves of a guy who has clearly sunk far below them.
They need to cut Trevor Bauer, and they need to do it now.
It would be a message that the organization has zero tolerance for domestic violence, a message that the team is representing Los Angeles with a culture of decency and respect, a message that prioritizes integrity over statistics and morality over money.
It would echo the message found at the bottom of Dodgers news releases, where they boast of being “recognized as ESPN’s Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year” and write of their dedication to “building a strong partnership with the community.”
It is a message that has been lost in all the legal shuffling and posturing that has occurred in the two weeks since a San Diego woman filed for a temporary restraining order against Bauer accompanied by a declaration filled with graphic photos, hospital records and gory details.
Bauer is currently on paid administrative leave while being investigated for alleged felony assault after the woman accused him of choking her to the point of losing consciousness during two sexual encounters and punching her repeatedly during the second one. Bauer’s representatives have said the encounters were consensual.
On Wednesday, Bauer’s leave was extended through July 27, and there doesn’t seem to be a path through which he can ever return. At this point, even if he is never charged with a crime, it seems obvious Bauer will never again take the mound for the Dodgers.
So why do the Dodgers still have him under contract?
Why are the Dodgers still waiting for MLB to do their dirty work?
By releasing Bauer, it could cost them the nearly $100 million remaining on his contract. It would probably also result in all sorts of legal action taken against the team by MLB, the players’ union, and Bauer, whose contract is actually protected by the same policy which has led to his administrative leave.
It could get ugly. It could be futile. The Dodgers need to try it anyway, because the price of their continued inertia is even higher.
Since the news broke, the Dodgers have twice failed their fans with tepid responses.
First, immediately after details of the woman’s declaration became public, manager Dave Roberts announced Bauer was still making his next scheduled start.. They only removed him from taking the mound the next day when MLB ordered the paid administrative leave. Granted, to suddenly bench him would have violated the policy agreement between MLB and the union, but the Dodgers should have ignored the rules in favor of of doing the right thing.
Second, in the only exchange between Dodgers front-office officials and the media regarding the issue, Dodgers President Stan Kasten treated the alleged incident with a casualness that drew a rare public rebuke from Commissioner Rob Manfred.
On July 2, after Bauer had been placed on administrative leave, Kasten returned from the Dodgers’ triumphant trip to the White House to meet with reporters at Washington’s Nationals Park.
“It’s really great to follow up such a great morning,” Kasten said, chuckling, “and now I have to have this press conference.”
He then jokingly relayed the guidance offered to Roberts before his own news conference.
“I told him, ‘They’re going to talk about Trevor Bauer,’” Kasten said. “Just say, ‘Can we please talk about foreign substances?’”
While Kasten added that the team was going to “absorb the process as the best way for all of us to get the right result,” the damage wrought by his initial trivializing of such a serious issue was done, and he was ripped on social media.
“I think that the public passed judgment on whether those comments were appropriate or not,” Manfred said this week at a meeting of the Baseball Writers’ Assn. of America before the All-Star game. “It was pretty clear what people thought about it. I don’t think it was a helpful comment, given all we are trying to achieve in this area.”
At this point, it would be helpful if the Dodgers front office were more attuned to the sensitivity of their team’s messaging, particularly Kasten, whose comments could have been easily mitigated with an as-yet-to-be-offered apology.
Also at this point, the most helpful comment would be, “Trevor Bauer no longer pitches for the Dodgers.”
Face it, even if this entire incident eventually disappears and Bauer is never charged with a crime, the images of his alleged violence remain and serious questions about his character and judgment linger.
Even if Bauer shows up at a news conference one day to celebrate being legally cleared of all wrongdoing, do the Dodgers still want him in their clubhouse, their uniform and their baseball community?
The answer is a definite no, so why not just release him now?
There is precedent for a local team spending big money to rid themselves of a perceived problem, witness the departure of slugger Josh Hamilton from the Angels in 2015.
When Hamilton admitted a relapse in his sobriety that winter, the Angels were furious that he violated the trust intrinsic in his $125-million contract. They cleaned out his locker, stopped selling his merchandise and actually complained when MLB did not suspend him.
“It defies logic that Josh’s reported behavior is not a violation of his drug program,” Angels President John Carpino said to The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin at the time.
Arte Moreno, the Angels owner, then issued his own no-tolerance address.
“We understand that he’s had struggles, and obviously he’s still having struggles, but the reality is there’s accountability,” Moreno said of Hamilton at the time. “When you make an agreement, you need to stand up.”
And so, at the end of April, Moreno didn’t wait for direction from MLB or the union, and simply ate $68 million of Hamilton’s contract and sent him back to his previous team, the Texas Rangers.
The Dodgers face far greater obstacles in removing a pitcher who has become a plague, but they need to at least make the attempt.
Stop dodging and dallying and dancing around the inevitable.
Cut Trevor Bauer now.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.