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Cody Bellinger News: The Dodgers Face a Big Question on Former MVP This Week

This week could bring a momentous day in Dodger history. Heck, in baseball history. There has never been a case of a player winning a Rookie of the Year Award and a Most Valuable Player Award and then being non-tendered by his team before qualifying for free agency. Could Cody Bellinger be the first?

Bellinger burst on the scene in 2017 with 39 homers and a .933 OPS to unanimously win the Rookie of the Year. Two years later, he mashed 47 taters and posted a 1.035 OPS to win the NL MVP.

Then the wheels came off. After a down year in the shortened 2020 season, he suffered a shoulder injury when he celebrated his game-winning home run in Game 7 of the NLCS too exuberantly, eventually having shoulder surgery after the Dodgers’ World Series victory. His 2021 season was hampered by multiple injuries, including a fractured leg early in the season, and his OPS+ for the season was 44, meaning he was 56 percent worse than league average. The 2022 season was better, but it was still very bad, with a 78 OPS+ in a healthy season.

As Bill Plunkett writes in the Orange County Register, Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers face an unprecedented decision whether to offer Bellinger a contract in his final year of arbitration eligibility. He stands to make about $17 million in arbitration if they do.

The Dodgers agree that the shoulder surgery that followed the 2020 World Series could have changed Bellinger’s strength and range of motion in the front side of his swing. The hairline leg fracture he suffered in April 2021 also seems to have affected the way he uses the lower half of his body during his swing.

And last year’s lockout prevented the Dodgers from working with Bellinger on his strength or his swing during the offseason. That isn’t the case this year and Friedman said Bellinger has been “talking through things” with the team’s hitting coaches as well as the strength and performance staff.

“I think it’s always easier in the offseason than it is in season,” Friedman said. “In an alternate universe of no lockout last year, would it have played out differently? I don’t know the answer. But at least do as much as we can over the offseason. His desire and willingness to attack it is not a question at all in my mind.”

Fans (and pundits) have had a perception of Bellinger as lazy and/or unwilling to make adjustments, but recent statements from Friedman suggest the team doesn’t see things that way. Between Bellinger’s talent level and the underlying circumstances of not having a regular offseason last year, it has to be tempting for the Dodgers to just bite the bullet and give it one more shot with him. One way or another, we’ll have a better idea by Friday, the deadline for the team to decide whether to tender him a contract offer.

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11 Comments

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  1. “This week could be a momentous day…” Hmm, any editors there know Englilsh? Anyway, The headline should read “Bellinger speculation” not news. “News” will actually be when the Dodgers announce Bellinger’s future with the team.

    • They’re going to offer him a contract. Let’s stop the nonsense…we can’t afford to have him fix this somewhere else. His defense is spectacular; if he’s under contract we can trade him or give up on him at a later date. We need to look no farther than Yordan Alvarez to find the incentive to not give up yet.

    • Many a LHB will see their fortunes turn with no shift with seeing the 3B playing in shallow RF to take hits away. Or not seeing the 2B about 20Ft. Or so on the OF grass.

  2. You would think the Dodgers would be nuts to pay Belli $17 million but there aren’t a lot of other options out there. Judge will stay with the Yankees and the only other good CF on the market is Brandon Nimmo. But his defense is suspect in CF and he probably should be a corner OF. Even if Belli stays in an offensive funk his defense (at one of the most important positions) is elite. You can bet Urias, Kersh, May, and Gonsolin want Belli to stick around, regardless of the price.

    • Belli is worth half his pay for the Gold Glove, but if he wants the other half he needs to be a productive Offensive threat. Belli is finally healthy and he has the whole offseason to revamp his hitting approach and swing mechanics. Go and see Kevin Long, too bad the Phillies just extended his contract. A- Rod, Jeter, Harper, Soto, and T. Turner all vouch for him. If Belli is re-signed hope to see a new, more matured and dedicated ball player. Have to be a one year incentive laden contract with club option.

  3. It could very well be that might retain him for 1 more year. Bellinger becomes a FA after 2023 and Boras, his agent will certainly shop him. With that a possibility and even should Bellinger have a turn around season in 2023 and continues an upward trend in October, Dodgers still may not be in a position to offer a long term deal. Would he be traded at the deadline? Anyone’s guess.

  4. Sign him then trade him to Dbacks with a couple of prospects for Katel Marte. Marte has a friendly contract. That solves your secondbase problem and he’s a switch hitter that could bat second. Move Lux to shortstop. This moves saves money too get the Japanese pitcher.

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