Three years earlier, it sure looked like, come completion of next season, there would be no larger complimentary representative on the planet than Cody Bellinger. In 2019, Bellinger had a face-melter of a season, setting up a 1.035 OPS, playing an outstanding center field (in addition to numerous other positions) and winning the National League MVP … all in his age-23 season. It appeared like he was going to be a Dodgers Hall of Famer at some time.
But a lot has actually taken place because that 2019 season. Bellinger was great in the reduced 2020 season instead of terrific, and, rather notoriously, separated his shoulder while commemorating an enormous NLCS Game 7 homer. That caused 2 seasons of shoulder issues and a stunning collapse in production: In 2021, his OPS was almost half of what it remained in 2019. That caused the Dodgers choosing not to tender Bellinger an agreement recently rather than perhaps paying him near $20 million in his last year of income arbitration, making him a complimentary representative right when he’s expected to be in his prime.
Bellinger’s representative, Scott Boras, has actually stated he desires Bellinger to sign a one-year, make-good offer, to reveal he’s totally healthy and back to his old self, prior to in theory signing a larger offer next offseason. That puts a heap of groups on the table as possible bidders for his services. Though a multi-year offer most likely isn’t off the table, either.
So, let’s rank ‘em! Here are your probably Bellinger suitors, in what is silently among the most interesting complimentary representative sweepstakes of this entire offseason.
1. Blue Jays
Ever given that they traded Teoscar Hernández to the Mariners, the majority of baseball has actually been awaiting the Blue Jays to generate another outfielder. While Brandon Nimmo has actually been the hot report, Bellinger makes a lots of sense too. He, like Nimmo, would move George Springer out of center field, and he’s a left-handed player for a group that’s greatly right-handed. And doesn’t his swing appear like one that would be ideal for releasing moon shots deep into the Canada night? If the Blue Jays don’t get Nimmo, Bellinger is an apparent next action.
Clearly, Aaron Judge is the very first concern. But if he winds up sticking with the Yankees (or signing in other places), Bellinger isn’t a bad 2nd choice. He’s a much better center fielder than anything they have now, he’d undoubtedly send out lots of baseballs into McCovey Cove and putting him in a Giants uniform is a terrific method to irritate Dodgers fans. All informed: Even if they get Judge, they ought to pursue Bellinger too. They require offense: If he’s close to what he was, he’s an immediate upgrade.
Well, we understand he likes striking at Globe Life Field: That is where he struck the homer that caused the dislocated shoulder, after all. But the Rangers would enjoy to have him too, as a prominent, one-time MVP who would be an upgrade in center field and would include a bat to a lineup that might most likely utilize 3 or 4 more.
First off, the Bleacher Creatures would definitely enjoy him at Wrigley. But this has to do with more than visual fit. The Cubs appears to have some cash to invest however may wish to wait another year or more to make a splash on a complimentary representative player. They likewise have a clear requirement for striking. Bellinger might play center field — or very first base, truly — and bat in the middle of the order, offering him every chance to restore his worth around baseball in among the most prominent scenarios in the sport. And the Cubs make good sense as a multi-year play too, if Bellinger’s up for that. Seriously, he’d look so terrific because uniform.
The Mets may be loath to provide him a lot of years, however as a one-year offer, you’d need to believe they might outbid practically any person. He might possibly change Nimmo in center field (if he signs in other places), however more to the point, he’d supply them with some pop that they sorely require. And if it goes as well as some believe it might, the Mets would be very well placed to provide him the long-lasting offer he desires … perhaps even prior to the season is over.
6. White Sox
They may wish to simply let their No. 2 possibility, Oscar Colas, use up an area in the outfield with Luis Robert and Eloy Jiménez, however if they’re not all set to do that, Bellinger would make a good 1 year bridge — not to discuss that he’d include some depth, particularly given that Robert and Jiménez have actually tended to get hurt.
After dealing Harrison Bader at the Trade Deadline in 2015, the Cardinals don’t have an apparent center fielder. Dylan Carlson is the most likely Opening Day starter today, and while the Cardinals aren’t most likely to quit on him right now, their outfield isn’t almost as settled as their infield today. They likewise beware of long-lasting offers, which might keep them in the running. Still, though: This would be a little out of character for the Cardinals, and for a player who wishes to reveal he can smash a great deal of homers, Busch Stadium is a difficult location to pad those punching numbers.
8. Red Sox
It’s sort of uncertain what the Red Sox are going to do at all this offseason, however if they get ready for an AL East run, Bellinger would be a good short-term option to their center field concern. Also, it’s a relocation quite of a current Red Sox vintage: A headline-maker that most likely doesn’t move the needle all that much.
It doesn’t appear totally off the table, does it? Bellinger may not aspire to go back to a group that simply non-tendered him, however if the marketplace isn’t as big as we believe it may be for him, perhaps the Dodgers provide him another year at a lower cost than what he would have gotten in arbitration. Seems like a thin possibility, however.
Other possible possibilities: Astros, Marlins, Padres, Rays, Rockies