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Will any team sign Trevor Bauer despite the controversy he would bring?

Trevor Bauer had a 2.24 earned run average in his previous 28 major league starts before he was placed on administrative leave July 2, 2021.D. ROSS CAMERON/Associated Press

A text to Sam Kennedy went unanswered and Chaim Bloom offered no comment. It came as no surprise.

Trevor Bauer became a free agent this past week and his future is the third rail of topics for baseball executives. It’s best to leave it alone.

Or in this case, you have no choice.

The Red Sox and most other teams are adhering to a rule within the collective bargaining agreement that prohibits declaring a lack of interest in any free agent to the media because it would diminish the player’s value.

Major League Baseball fears that the ever-litigious Bauer would file a grievance through the Players Association seeking damages and has warned teams to keep quiet. Still, it has been reported elsewhere via anonymous sources that the Guardians, Mets, Padres, Twins, and Yankees have no interest in Bauer.


I’d like to think the same is true for the Red Sox but can’t write that with absolute certainty. They have buttoned up on this issue.

But it’s hard to believe that a team that has hired two women as minor league coaches and has Raquel Ferreira as an executive vice president and assistant general manager would sign a person such as Bauer.

Ideally a team should feel free to go on the record and say, “No, we are not interested in employing a player who was suspended 194 games for violating the league’s policy on domestic violence. That goes against our values as an organization.”

But that isn’t being allowed.

This is a saga that will not go away. Bauer, who turns 32 on Tuesday, had a 2.24 earned run average in his previous 28 major league starts before he was placed on administrative leave July 2, 2021, after being accused of physical and sexual assault by a San Diego woman seeking a restraining order.


Bauer contended his actions, which included beating the woman, were consensual, which the woman denied. A judge lifted a temporary restraining order on Bauer, but MLB extended his leave as police investigated the matter. Two other women subsequently came forward making similar allegations.

Police did not press charges, saying they did not have sufficient evidence to go to court. But MLB’s investigation led to a 324-game suspension from commissioner Rob Manfred last April. Bauer denied violating the league’s policy and appealed. An independent arbiter dropped the suspension to 194 games in December, which amounted to time served, and reinstated Bauer. That decision came with an additional punishment of playing the first 50 games of the season without pay.

Trevor Bauer has been under a cloud of controversy since sexual assault allegations emerged in 2021.Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The Dodgers were sharply criticized in Los Angeles for not designating Bauer for assignment immediately after the arbiter’s decision. The team instead waited the full 14 days until it had to decide. The Dodgers then waited seven more days before releasing Bauer. As expected, no team was willing to trade for him.

The Dodgers are responsible for the $22.5 million remaining on his contract. Any team signing him would pay only the major league minimum salary of $720,000.

Bauer is one of 17 players suspended for domestic violence in MLB history. His suspension, even with the reduction, is the longest by 32 games. Manfred said the league’s investigation clearly warranted the lengthy suspension.

Given the violent acts he was accused of and subsequently punished for, Bauer would bring a torrent of controversy for any team that signs him.


Teams have welcomed back players who served PED suspensions or were arrested for other crimes. In time the stigma fades. But a record-setting suspension for domestic violence is not something easily explained to team employees and the fan base. Bauer also has a history of bullying women on social media.

The guess here is that Bauer will remain a free agent into spring training, then sign with an independent league team that craves publicity more than it cares about the ethics of the situation. Or perhaps Bauer will pitch in simulated games broadcast on one of his social media platforms.

Teams invariably have a need for pitchers and maybe the passage of time will lead to his coming back. There may be a small-market team willing to absorb the bad publicity to get a front-line starter for a minimum salary.

“It only takes one,” an American League general manager said. “I’ve learned you can never say never.”

In the NFL, the Cleveland Browns traded for quarterback Deshaun Watson last year and signed him to a record contract despite more than two dozen women charging him with sexual misconduct while he was a member of the Houston Texans. Watson returned from suspension and started six games.

Bauer, who lost $37.6 million because of the suspension, doesn’t seem worried.

“Can’t wait to see y’all out at a stadium soon!” he posted on Twitter after his suspension was reduced.

Then one of his agents posted a video of Bauer throwing pitches by what appeared to be high school players.


“New changeup for [Bauer] and damn it’s filthy,” the caption said.

Bauer also is planning to hire a videographer to chronicle his activities. He’s proceeding as if nothing happened, having forcefully denied all allegations. Contrition is not part of his playbook.

It’s a sordid situation that baseball can’t avoid. Bauer can still pitch and is one phone call away.


Bloom makes fevered pitch to Red Sox fans

Chaim Bloom had a message for Red Sox fans this week.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The Red Sox were understandably in a celebratory mood Wednesday when they announced their 10-year contract extension with Rafael Devers. After failing with Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, they got this one right.

Chaim Bloom was particularly verbose, uncharacteristically so.

“Really, to our fans. Loving your favorite team has its great moments but it’s not always easy,” he said. “I know we’ve had some ups and downs, certainly in the last few years. I know you all are smart and knew there would be ups and downs from where we stood and some of the things we had to go through.

“You’ve been with us the whole way. When we’ve celebrated, you’ve celebrated with us. When we hurt, you hurt, and we know that and we feel it.”

Bloom then dropped this nugget:

“You know who we have and you know there’s more coming. You know it’s not always linear, it’s not always easy. We’ve taken a couple of haymakers and, you know what, we’re probably going to take a couple more. This is baseball and it’s not supposed to be easy.


“I want to be clear: We’re going to do this. It’s going to be awesome. We are going to get there.”

It was essentially a campaign speech. Bloom has been chief baseball officer for three years and nearly three months and has two last-place finishes. A good portion of the fan base is questioning the direction of the team.

History suggests his job could soon be on the line.

Bloom’s predecessor, Dave Dombrowski, lasted four years and nearly one month. Ben Cherington’s tenure lasted three years and nearly 10 months. Both had won World Series during their time in charge.

In what looks to be a loaded American League East, the coming season could determine if Bloom gets beyond four years on the job.

A few other observations on the Red Sox:

▪ Bogaerts started at shortstop in 90 percent of the games the Red Sox played from 2015-22 and was on the injured list once, in 2014.

Counting the nine times he was the DH, Bogaerts started all but 110 games during those eight seasons.

Trevor Story already has missed 68 games and will be on the injured list for at least another 85-100 this season, if not all 162. The start of the season will mark Story’s third time on the injured list in a span of 10 months.

Story was damaged goods when the Red Sox signed him last March. He played all season with his right elbow wrapped and his arm action looked forced at times.

With less range required to play second base, it wasn’t a problem. Story was an excellent defender. But once he started making throws from shortstop this winter, Story further injured his elbow and required surgery.

The Sox had the opportunity to sign Bogaerts to an extension in spring training that almost certainly would have been far shorter and much cheaper than the 11 years and $280 million he received from the Padres nine months later. But they mishandled the situation and put their faith in Story, who is only six weeks younger than Bogaerts.

It took less than a month for it to blow up on them.

Could Kiké Hérnandez make the switch to shortstop in place of Trevor Story?Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Alex Cora made an interesting point that signing Kiké Hernández to a one-year extension in September sure looks important now. He’s right about that.

Cora said the Sox are talking about the idea of playing Hernández at shortstop to replace Story, as opposed to center field.

“His jumps, his reactions, he can do it,” Cora said of Hernández. “We’ve been talking about different scenarios.”

Signing or obtaining a shortstop and leaving Hernández in center feels like a better move. New left fielder Masataka Yoshida would benefit from Hernández being in center, as would Alex Verdugo, now a full-time right fielder.

Hernández’s speed covering the gaps would make life easier for both corner outfielders.

▪ Cora said the early reports on Chris Sale from his workouts at Fenway South are positive. “From everything I hear, he’s on track,” the manager said.

Several other pitchers will be headed to Fort Myers, Fla., on Jan. 23.

▪ The Red Sox did a nice thing during the news conference Wednesday. The main Fenway Park scoreboard and televisions around the park listed the names of 58 current staffers who played a role in helping develop Devers.

The list included familiar names such as Cora, Eddie Romero, and Jason Varitek. But also Manny Nanita, the scout who helped sign Devers in 2013, and Tom Kotchman, who managed Devers in rookie ball. Sara Franco, the Dominican Academy administrator, was there, too. There were athletic trainers, clubhouse attendants, batting practice pitchers, team doctors, and even the clubhouse chef.

It was good of the team to recognize that signing Devers to a long-term contract also was their accomplishment.

Lee Tinsley, an outfielder who played for the Sox from 1994-96, died unexpectedly in Arizona on Thursday at the age of 53. No cause was announced.

A first-round pick by the Athletics in 1987, Tinsley bounced to Cleveland and Seattle before the Red Sox traded for him in 1994.

Tinsley was traded to Philadelphia before the 1996 season, only to be reacquired in June, then traded to Seattle in November.

In all, he played 271 games for the Sox and hit .258 with 12 homers. Tinsley then coached with the Angels, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Mariners, and Reds.

▪ The Los Angeles City Council declared Jan. 22 as Justin Turner Day in the city in 2019 to recognize the former Dodger for his many charitable works over the last nine years.

Turner won the Roberto Clemente Award last season for his community service. Justin and his wife, Kourtney, began the Justin Turner Foundation in 2016.

▪ The Sox are bringing back their Winter Weekend fan event in Springfield on Friday and Saturday after a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic.

Devers, Hernández, Sale, and Kenley Jansen are among the notable players expected to be on hand, along with Hall of Famers Wade Boggs, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, and Jim Rice, and World Series champions Craig Breslow, Jonny Gomes, Will Middlebrooks, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Dwight Evans and Luis Tiant, who both should be in the Hall of Fame, will be on hand, too. has further information.


Oberg offers thanks upon retirement

Scott Oberg's career was derailed by persistent blood clots in his arm.David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Here’s to Scott Oberg, who officially retired Tuesday. The 32-year-old Rockies righthander hadn’t pitched since 2019 because of recurring blood clots in his arm. Doctors told him trying to restart his career could be dangerous.

The former Tewksbury High and UConn pitcher took a part-time position in baseball operations with the Rockies, who drafted him in 2012. He’ll work in different capacities, learning the game from a new perspective.

Oberg made his major league debut in 2015 and had his most memorable moment in the 2018 National League wild-card game when he struck out all four Cubs he faced in the 12th and 13th innings to get the victory, 2-1.

Oberg appeared in five playoff games in his career and punched out 12 of the 17 batters he faced. The Rockies haven’t won a playoff game since.

“I cannot thank those closest to me enough; from my family, friends, teammates and especially having the unwavering support of my wife. I could not have been able to accomplish anything without any of you. Love you all,” he wrote on Instagram.

Extra bases

This is a strange one. The Cardinals hired Matt Holliday as bench coach Nov. 6 and he resigned Thursday after deciding he didn’t want that much time away from his family. Holliday, who turns 43 on Sunday, finished a long career as a player in 2018. His only coaching experience was three years as a volunteer assistant at Oklahoma State under his older brother, Tom. The Cardinals replaced Holliday with former White Sox coach Joe McEwing. In what will be his second year as manager, Oli Marmol will have a new bench coach, a new hitting coach (Turner Ward), and a new pitching coach (Dusty Blake) . . . Major League Baseball hired longtime sports television executive Billy Chambers to the newly created position of executive vice president of local media. With cable subscribers steadily dropping, MLB’s reliance on revenues from regional sports networks (such as NESN) are endangered. Over time, the league could create a national product featuring a menu of games along with streaming services of local games that would be safe from blackouts . . . The Tigers changed the dimensions of cavernous Comerica Park. The wall in center field is being moved 10 feet closer, to 412, and reduced in height from 8½ feet to 7 feet. The 13-foot wall in right-center also is dropping to 7 feet, as is the wall in right field. The Tigers hit 52 home runs at home last season. Only the Guardians, with 50, had fewer. How mad must Miguel Cabrera be? He played 15 years in a home run graveyard and now they’re moving the fences in before his final season . . . Mark this down on your calendar: The fourth ALS Awareness Game at Fenway Park will be at 7 p.m. on May 19, when Boston College hosts Notre Dame. Proceeds benefit the Pete Frates Family Foundation. Previous games have raised nearly $130,000 . . . Congratulations to Worcester Red Sox president Charles Steinberg and Kara Lynch on their engagement. Fittingly they met at Polar Park . . . Happy birthday to Wayne Gomes, who is 50. The righthander was 1-2 with a 4.64 ERA in 20 games for the 2002 Red Sox. Gomes was the fourth overall pick of the 1993 draft by the Phillies out of Old Dominion. The Monarchs did not have another first-round pick until Justin Verlander in 2004. Triston Casas is 23. Raise your hand if you have winter boots that have been around longer.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him @PeteAbe.