In a transfer that was unthinkable simply two seasons in the past, the Dodgers determined to non-tender outfielder Cody Bellinger earlier than Friday’s deadline. The transfer makes Bellinger, the 2019 National League Most Valuable Player, a free agent for the first time in his profession.
Bellinger was scheduled to make round $18 million to $20 million throughout his final season of arbitration. Given Bellinger’s subpar manufacturing at the plate in every of the final two seasons, that was a determine the Dodgers did not really feel snug paying for Bellinger, which is what led them to make the tough choice.
The transfer does not essentially finish Bellinger’s time in Los Angeles. The Dodgers will try to convey Bellinger again at a cheaper price, in keeping with a supply, however that shall be a tricky process as the heart fielder’s market is anticipated to have loads of suitors.
Bellinger’s anticipated giant pool of suitors shall be due to the risk he faucets into what as soon as made him one in every of the prime gamers in the league. Bellinger hit 39 homers in 2017 and took dwelling the NL Rookie of the Year Award. In ’19, he hit 47 homers and edged Christian Yelich for his first MVP Award.
That kind of manufacturing turned what the Dodgers and Bellinger anticipated, nevertheless it turned unimaginable to recreate. In ’20, Bellinger dislocated his non-throwing shoulder as he celebrated a homer in Game 7 of the NLCS. He underwent offseason surgical procedure, which sidelined him for just a few weeks in Spring Training.
During the first week of the ’21 season, Bellinger fractured his left fibula throughout a freak play in opposition to the A’s. As he handled accidents, Bellinger was by no means in a position to get going at the plate, ending the 12 months with 10 homers and a .542 OPS, one in every of the worst in the Majors amongst qualifying hitters.
Entering the ’22 season, the Dodgers and Bellinger had been optimistic of a bounceback season. Bellinger got here into Spring Training enthusiastic about his elevated power. But the outcomes by no means got here and he posted a .654 OPS in 144 video games in ’22. That lack of manufacturing in the end led the Dodgers to bench Bellinger in Game 4 of the NLDS in opposition to the Padres, even with right-hander Joe Musgrove on the mound.
Bellinger shall be 27 subsequent season and nonetheless performs elite protection in heart discipline. The argument to tender him a contract revolved round giving him one final probability to determine issues out in Los Angeles. But with the Dodgers needing to improve different positions on the roster, primarily the beginning pitching employees, his price ticket turned too heavy at this level in the offseason.
With Bellinger off the roster, the Dodgers have Trayce Thompson and Chris Taylor slated to play heart discipline. Mookie Betts can even slide over now and again. They’ll even be protecting tabs on free-agent outfielders akin to Kevin Kiermaier.