Dodgers Dugout: Slight majority wants Trevor Bauer to play for Dodgers next season

Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer cups his hand to his ear and reacts to Giants fans booing him.
Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer cups his hand to his ear and reacts to Giants fans booing him at Oracle Park on May 21, 2021 in San Francisco.
(Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and spring training is just around the corner. OK, around the corner and down the street a bit, but it’s definitely getting closer.

Last week, I asked you to vote in an unscientific poll as to whether the Dodgers should keep Trevor Bauer, or release him. And, after 19,193 votes, the results are in:

Keep him, 51.2%
Release him, 48.8%

Many people emailed with their thoughts on why they voted the way they did. Most of the people who voted “Keep him” fell into two distinct camps:

1. “He was found innocent in a court of law and should be allowed to play.” Well, Bauer wasn’t found innocent in a court of law. The district attorney’s office decided not to prosecute him, determining there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bauer committed a crime. Plus, you aren’t found innocent in a court of law, you are found not guilty. Not guilty is a legal finding by the jury that the prosecution has not met its burden of proof.


It’s also important to note that the arbitrator found that Bauer did violate the league’s sexual assault and domestic abuse policy, which is a big reason his entire suspension wasn’t overturned, and left in place the longest suspension for this type of violation in MLB history. There also was more than just the San Diego woman making accusations, there were two other women. We don’t know what the arbitrator learned from witnesses who testified, because, as part of MLB’s policy, it can’t be released.

When Bauer’s attorneys asserted that the denial of the San Diego woman’s attempt to get a restraining order necessarily meant Bauer had not committed assault or battery, a federal court ruled the denial just meant Bauer was not a threat to harm the woman in the future. In November, U.S. District Judge James Selna ruled that “the state court proceedings did not necessarily decide that Bauer did not batter or sexually assault [her].”

2. “The woman asked for it, so it’s not a big deal.” A surprising, and disappointing, number of people wrote in saying this. All I can say is if you believe this, then you have problems that are far beyond the ability of this newsletter to help you with.

Enjoying this newsletter?

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a Los Angeles Times subscriber.

So now the ball is in the Dodgers’ court. They have until Friday to activate him or release him. For those of you hoping for a trade, that seems extremely unlikely. Putting all the off the field issues aside and speaking from just a baseball sense, why give up anything for a guy who hasn’t pitched in 22 months? Especially when most reports say the Dodgers are going to release him? And he can’t be sent to the minors because he has enough service time to refuse the assignment.

What do the players think? None have commented publicly, but according to Bill Shaikin, “the front office has been told at least some players want Bauer back, people with knowledge of the situation but not authorized to speak publicly told The Times.”

The Dodgers owe him $22.5 million next season, which puts them right up against the payroll luxury tax threshold of $233 million. Which also means they probably won’t be adding any more players if they wish to remain below the threshold and reset their penalty for the 2024 season.

If you have questions on this you want answered, you should read Shaikin’s excellent Q&A on the subject by clicking here.

So, with all that said, we will go back to focusing on on-field issues with the Dodgers.

Justin Turner turns red

Not too long after the Dodgers signed J.D. Martinez to a one-year, $10-million deal, fan favorite Justin Turner agreed to a two-year, $22-million deal with the Boston Red Sox. Turner can opt out after the first year. This brings to an end, for now, his Dodger career.


Turner signed as a free agent with the Dodgers before the 2014 season, the news of which was met by a collective “Who?” by Dodger fans. Up till then, Turner was a career .260/.323/.362 hitter with eight home runs in 841 at-bats. And then, something happened. This .260 hitter suddenly hit .340 with seven homers in 288 at-bats in 2014. Dodger fans took notice. But was it a fluke? No. Turner became the Dodgers’ best hitter and the heart of the offense. Over the next six seasons, he hit .294, .275, .322, .312, .290 and .307, with solid defensive play at third base. He quickly became almost everyone’s favorite Dodger. He slowed a bit the last two seasons, but even though 2022 was considered a bit of a down year, he still had an OPS+ of 116, meaning he was 16% better than the average hitter.

In nine seasons with the Dodgers, Turner hit .296/.375/.490 with 156 home runs. He had many memorable moments, including a walk-off homer in Game 2 of the 2017 National League Championship Series and a diving tag/double play in Game 7 of the 2020 NLCS.

But it’s not only the on-field Turner the Dodgers will miss. He and his wife, Kourtney, were very active in the community, particularly with Children’s Hospital L.A. with many visits to the patients there.

But my favorite thing Turner did was during almost every Dodger home game. Most games, the Dodgers will introduce a “Military Hero of the Game,” a person they bring on field who has served in the armed forces. Quite often, these people will have been wounded in battle or done something heroic. They are introduced and the fans are told what they did, and they usually get a lengthy ovation as they walk back to their seat. Leaving the field, they always are led up the aisle next to the Dodger dugout. Waiting for them there very quietly at the edge of the dugout each time was Turner, who shook their hand, said a few words and gave them an autographed ball. It was a nice, quiet gesture, done with Turner not wanting to bring attention to himself.

So yes, Justin Turner will be missed in many ways.

But, let’s do a fun poll now. Who is the greatest third baseman in Dodger history? Your choices are Turner, Ron Cey, Adrián Beltré and Billy Cox. Click here to vote.

J.D. Martinez

Martinez spent the last five seasons with the Red Sox and made the All-Star team last season. He finished the year hitting .274/.341/.448 with 43 doubles and 16 homers, good for an OPS+ of 117. He will mainly be a designated hitter for the Dodgers and if he hits similarly in 2023, he will be an adequate replacement for Turner. They are basically the same player at this point. Martinez is best remembered by Dodger fans as the player who hit four home runs in one game against them in 2017, when he was with Arizona.

Noah Syndergaard

The other big acquisition since we last spoke was pitcher Noah Syndergaard, the onetime Mets phenom whose career was derailed by injuries. He pitched for the Angels and Phillies last season, and went 10-10 with a 3.94 ERA. He signed a one-year, $13-million deal. The signing was met with a collective yawn among fandom, but consider that last offseason, the signings of Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney were also met with a collective yawn. There is no team better at turning around pitchers than the Dodgers, which is one reason Syndergaard turned down multi-year offers elsewhere.

“Everything that they touch turns to gold,” Syndergaard said. “When you think of the Los Angeles Dodgers, it has this aura around it, where the expectations are super high and you’re just expected to go out there and perform to the highest level.... I have the utmost confidence in the staff and the organization to help me get back to being the old me. What they did with Heaney last year and Tyler Anderson, I definitely want to be in that category.”

What does all this add up to?

Usually at this time of year, the Dodgers come out on top when people run their simulations for the next season. Not this year. The general consensus is that the Dodgers will win 89 games next season. Which should get them in the playoffs (the Phillies made it with 87 wins last season, the Padres with 89) but probably won’t win them the division.

Of course, if it was that easy, you could just run every season via simulation and save all the expense and travel. The hope here is that the young players on the team will bring a sense of energy and passion that was definitely missing the last couple of seasons. And it’s only January. There’s still time for some trades to be made and for the remaining free agents to end up somewhere.

But there’s no doubt that on paper, this current Dodgers team is not nearly as good as last year’s team.

The current roster

If the season started today, here’s a look at a projected 26-man roster based on the current 40-man roster.

Julio Urías
Clayton Kershaw
Dustin May
Tony Gonsolin
Noah Syndergaard

Yency Almonte
Phil Bickford
Caleb Ferguson
Brusdar Graterol
Daniel Hudson
Shelby Miller
Evan Phillips
Alex Vesia

Austin Barnes
Will Smith

Jacob Amaya
Freddie Freeman
Gavin Lux
J.D. Martinez
Max Muncy
Miguel Vargas

Mookie Betts
Chris Taylor
James Outman
Andy Pages
Trayce Thompson

We’ll keep track of the changes to this as the offseason progresses.

In case you missed it

Can Shelby Miller become Dodgers’ latest reclamation pitching project?

Vin Scully’s Hidden Hills mansion sells for $14 million

And finally

Justin Turner hosts Veterans Day batting practice at Dodger Stadium. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.