When Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Brandon Gomes met with the media on Tuesday for their end-of-season press conference, one of the big topics of conversation was outfielder Cody Bellinger, who is going into his last year of arbitration and seems like a candidate to not be tendered a contract after a third straight lackluster season.
Friedman and Gomes didn’t give much information on that front, with Gomes saying, “That’s not something we’ve discussed much internally. He’s had some good offensive stretches. Belli’s elite defense has continued to be there, and we still think there’s upside.”
Just a fancy “no comment,” really. On Access: SportsNet, host John Hartung talked with analysts Orel Hershiser and Jerry Hairston Jr. about Bellinger’s future, and Hairston’s comments were much more pointed.
“I’m a huge Cody Bellinger fan. I absolutely love this kid, I love his potential, his talent. I’m concerned about his career. I want him to thrive. I want him to have a long big-league career. I think he’s gonna need a new voice, I think it will probably be elsewhere. And I hope he has a tremendous career, that’s what I’m really concerned about. So hopefully he plays another eight, ten, twelve years in the big leagues, because he is so talented. But that three years — not just a season, not just two, it’s been three years where he’s hit .200 and he really hasn’t made a whole lot of adjustments. So I think he’s gonna have to play somewhere else.”
Bellinger is only 27 years old, which should be his prime. He’s still an outstanding athlete, and you’d have to imagine it’s hard for a team to give up on a young player who has shown himself to be an MVP-type player at his peak. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine paying somewhere between $14 million and $18 million for a guy with a .648 OPS over the last three seasons and .611 over the last two.
In the end, Hairston might be right. The best path forward might be for Bellinger to be in a different place. But in the end, that will be at least partly up to Dodgers management and, if they want to negotiate a lower contract, partly up to Belli, too.
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