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As M.L.B. Season Nears, Trevor Bauer Heads to Japan

More than nine weeks after the Los Angeles Dodgers cut him loose, and nearly two years after he last threw a pitch in a major league game, the free agent right-handed pitcher Trevor Bauer will attempt to rebuild his career and reputation overseas.

Bauer, who in December had an arbitrator reinstate him from a record-breaking suspension for violations of Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, has signed a one-year contract with the Yokohama BayStars of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. The deal, which the team officially announced Tuesday morning in Japan, is expected to pay Bauer $4 million.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be playing for the BayStars this year,” Bauer said in a statement issued through the BayStars. “Playing in the NPB has always been a dream of mine and I can’t think of a better organization to do it with.”

The move to Japan comes after the Dodgers released Bauer, the winner of the 2020 National League Cy Young Award, instead of adding him to the team’s 40-man roster following his reinstatement to M.L.B. That decision had come with a deadline thanks to Bauer’s 324-game suspension being reduced to 194 games, with credit given for time he had missed to that point. Even after cutting him, the Dodgers owe Bauer, who has not pitched in a game since June 2021, $22.5 million for this season.

Bauer, 32, has frequently been a lightning rod for controversy. The suspension came after a long investigation by M.L.B. into allegations that Bauer had sexually assaulted a woman, punching her and choking her in what she said had initially been a consensual sexual encounter. Bauer, who joined the Dodgers in 2021 as a free agent, was placed on administrative leave, with pay, on July 2 of that season. His accuser’s request for a permanent restraining order was denied, but The Washington Post reported similar accusations from other women.

Throughout the process, Bauer, who has not been charged with any crimes, has been vocal in his own defense and has maintained his innocence against all allegations. But while the arbitrator, Martin F. Scheinman, chose to reduce the suspension, he confirmed that Bauer had violated league policies and that a suspension was warranted.

In the end, the suspension cost Bauer $37.5 million, which is the highest figure lost by a player under the league’s domestic violence policy.

Bauer had joined the Dodgers as a free agent following his best professional season. He was the N.L.’s top pitcher in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, going 5-4 with a 1.73 E.R.A. for the Cincinnati Reds. The Dodgers outbid several other teams, giving him a three-year, $105 million contract.

That stretch of success, however, came in a tumultuous career in which Bauer had highly publicized issues with teammates in high school, college and at multiple major league stops. He first found professional success in Cleveland, pitching in the World Series in 2016, but his 2019 trade to Cincinnati came three days after he threw a ball from the mound over the center field fence in a fit of pique after Manager Terry Francona removed him from a game.

Despite his successful seasons in Cincinnati and Los Angeles, Bauer was not claimed by any of M.L.B.’s other 29 clubs when the Dodgers waived him. Once he became a free agent, he then did not catch on with any M.L.B. teams, leading to his choice to sign with Yokohama.

The BayStars play in the Japanese Central League and have been in existence as a professional team since 1950. The team’s notable players over the years include Yuli Gurriel, the former Houston first baseman who now is with Miami, along with the pitchers Tomo Ohka, Takashi Saito and Kazuhiro Sasaki.

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