The Los Angeles Dodgers plan to non-tender outfielder Cody Bellinger, making him a free agent, major-league sources confirm to The Athletic. The Dodgers also non-tendered Edwin Ríos and Luke Williams. Here’s what you need to know:
- Bellinger has been with the Dodgers organization since being drafted in 2013.
- The outfielder won the National League MVP award along with a Gold Glove Award and Silver Slugger Award in 2019.
- Bellinger dealt with ongoing injuries and hitting slumps in the past two seasons.
Bellinger’s time as a Dodger may be over, three years and four days from the moment he was voted the National League MVP.
The Dodgers’ non-tender of their one-time superstar center fielder, still just 27 years old, caps off a maddening descent for the player once seen as a potential franchise cornerstone. Rather than paying him in excess of $18 million in his final year of arbitration, the Dodgers made Bellinger a free agent, where a market of clubs with varying interest in the still-talented center fielder will be left to evaluate whether his floundering bat could be salvaged. — Ardaya
Bellinger’s performance the last two seasons
Among hitters with at least 900 plate appearances over the last two seasons, no one has performed worse than Bellinger’s .611 OPS. Be it the byproduct of a celebration gone awry that required major shoulder surgery and limited his range of motion, or a broken leg on a freak play at first base in the first week of the 2021 season that altered his lower body in his stance, Bellinger’s offensive profile has seemingly only increased its volatility in the flaws of his game, only without the supreme, consistent power that made it worthwhile.
He’s struggled to catch up to velocity, struck out more, walked less and struggled to hit the ball with the same thump that made him a quality hitter even in his dips earlier in his career. — Ardaya
Evaluating Bellinger’s future
The promise of what could still be there – he still plays a quality center field, runs well and will show flashes of his elite ability – is what makes evaluating Bellinger’s future such a quandary. Ultimately, the Dodgers figured it was too expensive of a dice roll for 2023. The Dodgers could still re-sign Bellinger at a cheaper rate, but now will have to do so competing with the rest of the open market. — Ardaya
(Photo: Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today)