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They were both first-round picks, drafted a year apart, with Matt Harvey going to the New York Mets in 2010 (7th overall) and Trevor Bauer taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011 (3rd overall).
Each right-hander achieved baseball milestones early in their major league careers. Harvey started the 2013 All-Star Game for the National League at Citi Field and later was part of the Mets’ rotation in the 2015 World Series against the Royals. Bauer, meanwhile, won the NL Cy Young Award with Cincinnati during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and then signed a record three-year, $102 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But the two pitchers recently garnered headlines for decidedly different circumstances. Major League Baseball suspended both Harvey and Bauer for violating the terms of collectively-bargained policies: the Joint Drug Agreement (Harvey) and the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy (Bauer).
Harvey, 33, was suspended 60 games for distributing a prohibited drug of abuse, and the discipline stems from testimony he gave earlier this year in Texas federal court. Harvey was a witness during the federal trial of former Angels communications director Eric Kay, and Harvey testified that he provided opioids to then Angels teammate Tyler Skaggs during the 2019 season. Kay was convicted on two felony drug counts, which included providing the lethal drugs to Skaggs that contributed to his July 1, 2019 overdose death, according to a Department of Justice press release.
The 60-game penalty that Harvey received is the punishment for first-time offenders who have distributed a prohibited drug of abuse, although the length of the suspension can be as high as 90-games. Second-time offenders of the same transgression receive a two-year suspension. Harvey did not appeal his discipline.
“Matt Harvey admitted under oath in federal court to distributing drugs — a felony in CA — among other illegal activities like taking drugs himself, in a case where a teammate died. “60 games”,” Bauer tweeted May 17, the day Harvey’s suspension was announced.
Bauer’s suspension is significantly higher than Harvey’s — 324 games — and MLB announced Bauer’s punishment April 29. But unlike the established penalties in the JDA, which include suspensions for performance-enhancing drug use, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has authority to dole out suspensions of whatever length to players the league has deemed are in violation of the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. And the terms of that policy — including the commissioner’s discretion on punishment — were also collectively-bargained by both the league and the players’ union.
Bauer’s 324-game ban without pay is the longest of any such discipline given to a player by Manfred since the policy was first implemented in August 2015, and Bauer, 31, is the first player to appeal. Bauer’s arbitration hearing began Monday, and it is believed that the proceedings are being held at a location other than MLB’s current Manhattan offices. It’s also possible that in the Covid fallout, some of the proceedings could take place via video.
The players’ union, MLB, and representatives for Bauer all declined comment.
When former Yankee Alex Rodriguez fought his 2013 PED suspension (211 games), the arbitration hearing took place at MLB’s then Park Avenue offices over the course of two months. During the early part of the proceedings, a swarm of Rodriguez supporters and media gathered outside 245 Park Avenue, even though the hearing was confidential.
Last year, a San Diego woman leveled sexual assault accusations at Bauer in a declaration attached to a temporary restraining order request. The claims stemmed from two sexual encounters between the woman and Bauer at the pitcher’s Pasadena home. Bauer’s attorney and agent, Jon Fetterolf, said in late June 2021 that Bauer had “a brief and wholly consensual sexual relationship” with the San Diego woman.
In August 2021, the woman was denied a permanent restraining order against Bauer by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge after a four-day hearing. The judge, Dianna Gould-Saltman, also dissolved the temporary restraining order and said in her ruling that the San Diego woman’s original declaration was “materially misleading.”
And earlier this year, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office declined to seek criminal charges against Bauer after a five-month review of the Pasadena Police Department’s investigation of the allegations. Bauer also posted a video in which he stated he had “consensual rough sex” with the San Diego woman and never assaulted her.
But in addition to having the authority to suspend a player for violating the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault Policy, Manfred can also discipline a player even if there has been no arrest, no criminal charges filed or the player wasn’t convicted.
After Bauer was suspended, he vowed to appeal, which involves filing a grievance. The arbitration hearing will have Bauer and his counsel, plus union representatives facing off against the league and its representatives, possibly led by deputy commissioner Dan Halem. It will be MLB’s burden of proof to demonstrate that such a ban is warranted.
Independent arbitrator Martin Scheinman will hear both sides present their case and then rule on the matter. If Scheinman upholds the 324-game ban, Bauer would stand to lose $60 million in salary. A 324-game suspension would also extend past the length of his Dodgers contract, and he would be a free agent in 2024.
Scheinman could also reduce the length of the ban or overturn Manfred’s punishment, although baseball sources have said that outcome is unlikely. Even if Bauer’s ban is reduced, several reports have said the Dodgers might consider releasing him and absorbing the financial hit.
The San Diego woman and two other female accusers — both Ohio women — could be witnesses during the arbitration hearing, which could extend into the summer. The two Ohio women’s accusations were reported by the Washington Post in separate stories. Bauer has denied those claims as well.
Bauer last pitched on June 28, 2021, but during the appeal process he cannot play. Up until his punishment was announced, Bauer had been on paid administrative leave, which began July 2, 2021 and was extended multiple times.
Harvey’s suspension is retroactive to April 29, according to an ESPN report. He signed a minor-league deal with Baltimore earlier this year, and last season he was 6-14 with a 6.27 ERA for the Orioles.