In 2021, Trevor Bauer was at the top of the baseball world. He had just won the Cy Young award the previous season with the Cincinnati Reds when he led the National League with a sparkling 1.73 ERA and two complete game shutouts. After that Bauer signed a three year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers for $102 million.
In 2021, a San Diego woman filed a legal accusation of sexual assault and was granted a temporary restraining order in June of that year. Bauer denied any wrongdoing. The temporary order was lifted in August, with the judge stating Bauer "did not coerce her or threaten her into sexual activity." The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office ultimately chose not to file any criminal charges, stating "People are unable to prove the relevant charges beyond a reasonable doubt." The two later settled a civil dispute out of court with no exchange of money between the parties.
MLB ultimately chose to suspend Bauer for two seasons -- 324 games -- under its domestic violence policy following a nine-month investigation before an independent arbitrator shortened that to 194 games in December 2022. Bauer paid a hefty price with the suspension estimated to have cost him about $37.6 million and his reputation left tarnished. The Dodgers chose to release him in January of 2023. No MLB team chose to sign him at that point.
Instead, Bauer spent the 2023 season pitching in the Japanese Central League for the Yokohama BayStars. After a shaky couple of starts, Bauer returned to form and had a very good season in Japan finishing with a 2.59 ERA across 156 innings.
When you compare Bauer's numbers this season to his BayStars teammate, Shota Imanaga, you’ll see they’re almost identical. Imanaga is one of the top two pitchers expected to come out of Japan this season. One big difference between the two is that Bauer has had great success in MLB before.
There is no denying that Bauer has the talent to be a top tier pitcher, but he does come with baggage. While many people feel that he has been fully exonerated of all wrongdoing, there are still those who don’t, and will chastise any team that does sign Bauer.
He also has a well documented attitude control problem, most notably when he threw a ball over the center field wall as Terry Francona came out to remove him from a game as a Cleveland Indians pitcher in 2019 (a fun side is that Ryan O’Hearn was the final runner to score for the Kansas City Royals before Bauer was pulled).
He got a reputation as a poor teammate, but there are mixed reports from Bauer’s previous teams, the Cleveland (Guardians), the Cincinnati Reds, the Dodgers and the BayStars about him as a teammate -- though former Dodgers teammate Mookie Betts recently argued teams should sign him.