Dodgers starting pitcher Trevor Bauer delivers in the first inning...

Dodgers starting pitcher Trevor Bauer delivers in the first inning of a game against Atlanta June 6, 2021, in Atlanta.  Credit: AP/Brynn Anderson

Oh, to have heard the conversations and computations that led to the Dodgers’ decision to designate Trevor Bauer for assignment Friday night, the very last day they could have done so before being forced to add him to their 40-man roster.

How many women are worth one Cy Young Award-winning pitcher? How many sexual assault accusations equal a single win above replacement?

According to an ESPN report, Dodgers brass spent the last week taking the pulse of their players, asking how bad it would really be if they brought back Bauer after he served his record-breaking suspension under the league’s domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.

That is a travesty, and when Bauer hits the open market, no team should touch him. The sad fact of it is, though, that the Dodgers’ apparent moral frailty indicates that some team out there very well might.

First, the facts: Though Bauer has been accused by three women, there is only a record of one attempting to file charges, something the Los Angeles County District Attorney declined to do for lack of evidence. The allegations from the women, one from California and two from Ohio, are similar: Bauer choked them unconscious and punched them during sex, with one accusing him of non-consensual penetration, according to records obtained by The Washington Post.

Bauer has denied the accusations, said all “rough” acts were wholly consensual, and that this is part of an extortion plot. (The Washington Post obtained a recording on which the pitcher admits to hitting the California woman, something he previously denied had happened; the woman went to the hospital.)

There’s a lot we don’t know. But there’s something vital that we do: Baseball’s exhaustive search into the events determined that Bauer’s actions demanded unprecedented censure.

His original suspension of 324 games was, by far, the longest meted out under the league’s domestic violence policy, though an arbitrator last month whittled that to 194 games — essentially time served. The Dodgers cited that suspension and the two league investigations as their reason for severing ties with the pitcher.

So where does that leave this sport? The Dodgers have until 2 p.m. Thursday to trade Bauer, and if that doesn’t happen, a team can pick him up for the low price of $720,000, the major-league minimum. The Dodgers will be on the hook for the $22.5 million left on Bauer’s contract. He still will get paid. A lot. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he should get to play.

Let’s be real — he’s a talented pitcher, and teams likely will be tempted. The Dodgers allegedly were. But before anyone says that allegations shouldn’t be enough to end a career, it’s important to remember that playing this sport for millions of dollars is a privilege, not a right.

It’s important, too, to think about the message it sends about women, consent and the pedestal on which we place these mortal men who can throw a ball very accurately and very hard.

Baseball’s track record with domestic violence is spotty at best, and a player who serves a long suspension is more likely to be bounced out of the sport for poor play than poor character. Locally, you can think of Domingo German, who slapped his girlfriend in a room full of his teammates in 2019 and made 14 starts for the Yankees last year, or Aroldis Chapman, who allegedly choked his girlfriend, or Jose Reyes, who was arrested, came back from his suspension and essentially got a season-long goodbye tour with the Mets.

All of this isn’t to say that people shouldn’t get second chances. Nor are we saying that mistakes make people irredeemable.

What we are saying is that baseball saw enough in its investigation to say that Bauer violated its domestic violence policy in gross fashion. Now, by not signing him, teams have an opportunity to raise their collective voices and say certain behaviors are unacceptable no matter how good a player you are.  

Bauer’s denials are many. In the past, he has gone on the offensive on social media. Over the years, he repeatedly has used Twitter as a platform to ridicule people, often women, who disagree with him. Fans of the pitcher have piled on, at times hurling insults and threats.

These are not the actions of a man who feels remorse for the things that led to his suspension. Furthermore, they’re the actions of a man who, in his lack of contrition, brings out the worst in the fans who look to him as a hero.

That’s not what baseball needs.

That’s not what baseball should encourage.

Forget the Dodgers and their long deliberations. The math is easy when the primary goal is doing the right thing.

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