When the 2023 season starts, Trevor Bauer will be one of the 20 highest-paid professional baseball players in the world. He’ll be the eighth highest-paid pitcher in the world. Trevor will technically be the second highest-paid person on the Dodgers payroll. Unfortunately (for Trevor), there’s a big catch to my previous statements. Trevor will NOT be a member of the Dodgers organization. And he won’t even be playing for a Major League Baseball team. That’s the bad news (for Trevor). The good news (for Trevor) is that thanks to an MLB Players Union contract loophole, he will actually get to double-dip salary this year.
Here is an extremely brief recap of the Trevor Bauer situation: In February 2021, following a Cy Young winning season with the Indians, Trevor signed a three-year $102 million contract with the Dodgers that should have made him the highest-paid player in the entire league. The deal came with a $10 million signing bonus and should have paid him $28 million for the 2021 season and $32 million for both the 2022 and 2023 seasons.
Unfortunately, after pitching just 17 games for the Dodgers, sexual assault allegations against Trevor were made public. He was suspended, with full pay, pending an investigation. Trevor Bauer has not been arrested or convicted of any crime, he’s denied all accusations, and in February of 2022 the L.A. County District Attorney declined to press charges against him.
In April 2022, after a 10-month investigation, MLB announced it was suspending Trevor without pay for 324 games. On appeal, the suspension was reduced to 194 games + 50 games in which he could play but not receive salary.
Over the 10 months he had been suspended Trevor had served the 194 games, so when it was all said and done he was perfectly eligible to start in the 2023 season for the Dodgers with a slightly-reduced but still fully guaranteed $22.5 million salary.
Pay or Play?
That left the Dodgers stuck between a rock and a hard place.
On the one hand, they were contractually obligated to pay Trevor $22.5 million in 2023. On the other hand, Trevor had become public relations poison for the team.
The best option for the Dodgers was to offer Trevor up as a trade. That’s exactly what they did in early January. Had another team picked Trevor up, the Dodgers would have offloaded his FULL salary. That did not happen.
Once the trade deadline passed, the Dodgers’ next-best hope was for a rival team to pick Trevor up with a league minimum $720,000 contract. They’d still be on the hook for $21.75 million. So this really wasn’t a great option. And in the end, no one picked him up for the league minimum either.
The latest MLB Players Union collective bargaining agreement contains what is called a “non duplication clause.” That clause prevents players from earning duplicate payments from MLB teams. A rival team could have picked up his Dodgers contract or offer him a larger contract, but they couldn’t have offered him an entirely new contract (not that they wanted to anyway).
The non duplication clause does not apply to other leagues.
This week Trevor signed a one-year $4 million deal to play for a team in… Japan. Trevor has agreed to terms with the Yokohama DeNa BayStars of the Nippon Professional Baseball league.
So in 2023 he will make $4 million from the BayStars + $22.5 million from the Dodgers for a total of…
FYI, in 2023, the Dodgers’ highest-paid player will be first baseman Freddie Freeman who will make $27 million. Mookie Betts will make $25 million.