In an article looking at MLB's options when it comes to Bauer, who remains on paid administrative leave, Passan spoke to more than two dozen "executives, owners, lawyers, players and others familiar with how the league's domestic violence policy operates" to see how the league may respond to Bauer once the pitcher's legal situation is resolved.
The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner is under investigation by MLB and California authorities for alleged sexual assault and intimate partner violence. In mid-August, a California judge denied a restraining order requested by a woman who had gained an ex-parte restraining order on June 28. A criminal case being investigated by the Pasadena, California, police into the matter was presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office earlier this month.
"Regardless of whether Bauer is charged with a crime, sources around the sport told ESPN they expect the league to levy a significant suspension against the 30-year-old," Passan wrote. "Further, front-office officials question not just whether the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner will return to the field with the Dodgers but if any team in MLB will be willing to roster him after multiple women have accused him of abuse."
A suspension of at least one year and possibly two years was raised by sources who spoke to ESPN. "Almost everyone" Passan spoke to believes Bauer won't pitch for an MLB team again:
"Now, that could be prisoner-of-the-moment talk. Plenty of things can change. All it takes is one team to convince itself Bauer is worth the repercussions. Five players on major league rosters today were once suspended under the policy. Never is a long time.
"But the details of the allegations, Bauer's reputation as a difficult personality, teams' fear of public backlash and a climate in which allegations of sexual assault have far deeper repercussions than at any time before are like four walls converging on Bauer. As great of a pitcher as he may be, sources said they had a difficult time envisioning a path back into the good graces of the league and the team."
The woman told the court Bauer abused her on two instances in April and May. In the ex-parte documents obtained by Katie Strang and Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic, she said Bauer choked her until she was unconscious with her own hair and penetrated her anally while unconscious, all without her consent. Multiple punches from Bauer resulted in two black eyes, a swollen lip and facial bruising, she said.
Bauer has repeatedly said he acted with the woman's consent both in public and legal proceedings.
MLB placed Bauer on administrative leave on July 2. The league's collective bargaining agreement requires joint approval from MLB and the MLBPA to extend the leave an additional seven days at a time, which both sides have agreed to on seven occasions so far, pending the outcome of MLB's investigation.
It's unclear if or when Bauer could return to Los Angeles' rotation should he be reinstated. Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reported in late July that "a majority of players do not want Bauer back under any circumstances." Passan expanded on that reporting Tuesday, noting there was "a distinct pocket of veterans on the team who didn't want Bauer anywhere near them again."
That uncertainty was part of the reason the Dodgers acquired Max Scherzer from the Washington Nationals at the trade deadline, boosting a rotation that already featured Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urias.
The Dodgers signed Bauer to a massive three-year, $102 million contract last offseason.