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Dodgers: Could Cody Bellinger Still Return to LA Following Non-Tender? And Should He?

Cody Bellinger is officially a free agent. That means he’ll have the opportunity to negotiate his next contract with all 30 MLB teams. Yes, that includes the Dodgers.

Although the Dodgers non-tendered Bellinger, that doesn’t mean his time in Los Angeles is 100% over. The Dodgers didn’t want to pay him the approximately $18 million he would’ve made with arbitration, but they could still find a middle ground.

The Dodgers, like the other 29 MLB teams, will now work with Bellinger and his agent, Scott Boras, on a new deal.

But the question is: Should the Dodgers even bother with a new deal, or is it time to move on?

That question is not a simple one by any means. Bellinger has been with the Dodgers for the entirety of his six-year career. He was drafted by the Dodgers in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. He made his debut with the Dodgers in 2017, when he hit .267 with 39 home runs and 97 RBIs and won the NL Rookie of the Year award.

Then skip ahead to 2019, when he slashed .305/406/.629 with 47 home runs and 115 RBIs, on his way to winning the NL MVP award as a 24-year-old. It seemed to be the beginning of a historic run for Bellinger, as the face of the Dodgers.

It wasn’t.

Bellinger struggled in 2020. He hurt his shoulder in the 2020 NLCS, setting himself up for a disappointing 2021 season. And then this year, there was the hope he would regain his 2019 form over a year removed from the injury — but he just couldn’t figure it out.

So now here we are. Bellinger is a free agent, in a class that is pretty dry in terms of centerfielders. Bellinger is a plus defender who won the MVP just three years ago and is one of the more well-known players in all of baseball. He will surely have a market.

The Dodgers have already made it clear they don’t want to spend the $18 million on him, so there’s a good chance their best offer isn’t anywhere close to that. You have to imagine the Dodgers are hoping to get him on a multi-year contract of around $10 million a season, but there are 29 other teams who could offer him much more. Some smaller market teams would love to sell their fans on the idea of bringing in a former MVP — and it would be at the fraction of the cost of a normal MVP.

So that probably doesn’t bode well for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers will probably try to bring Bellinger back, but there’s a good chance we see him in a different uniform in 2023. As a Boras client, they’ll be looking to get the best deal and the most money — and the Dodgers won’t offer him that.

It won’t be easy for Dodger fans to say goodbye to Cody Bellinger. He’s been one of the hearts and souls of this team for the last six seasons. But at some point, the Dodgers need to move forward and allow the next crop of Bellingers to make their way into the everyday starting lineup. And between James Outman, Miguel Vargas, Michael Busch, and Andy Pages, the future may be now for the Dodgers.

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7 Comments

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  1. Like I have said let him go. Go and find two good starting pitchers it is more of a need. You can’t win with what you have now.

  2. You really have to believe in Outman or Trayce Thompson to make this move…and we still need a left fielder if you want CT3 to be a utility guy.
    I’m loosing confidence in Andrew..gotta say it, too many cute moves rooted in hope rather than wisdom.

  3. The Dodgers are freeing up a lot of payroll. I’m hoping it’s for Trea Turner, and/or maybe Verlander?

  4. Sorry to see him, go, but the same business that makes it possible for him to make close to 20M a year makes it prudent to let him go. But really he hasn’t done much since the first half of his MVP year where he was an absolute monster at the plate, but faded in the second half and hasn’t been impressive since then.

    Still, tip of the hat to Belli and I hope he does well in the future, with the Dodgers or elsewhere.

  5. I like it. The FO is sending a message to everybody that the Dodgers is an elite organization where you have to produce at the highest level or else you’re gone. They’re not going to waste their time working on a trade if you have no value. No matter who you are, if you can’t perform to expectations or for your value, you’re gone. I have said this before that the roster needed a shake up as the culture have become too complacent. There’s this laid back “Fat Cat Attitude” that’s plaguing this team. New Team leaders have to set the expected high standards of the Dodgers for any new player coming in.

  6. offer Belli a $10 million contract with 8 million of incentives. Let him earn it-IF HE IS SUCCESSFUL!!!

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