Dodgers Non-Tender Cody Bellinger, Make Ex-NL MVP a Free Agent

Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger in 2019
Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger in 2019. Photo by Peter Joneleit/CSM/Shutterstock (10319051x)

It appears that the Los Angeles Dodgers don’t think their star outfielder Cody Bellinger could turn things around after disappointing performances in the past several seasons. The franchise announced late last week that they had non-tendered Bellinger, making him a free agent.

The 2019’s NL MVP and the Dodgers previously avoided arbitration ahead of the 2022 season and settled on a one-year deal worth $17 million. Bellinger was set to earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $18 million next year.

Despite declining to give Bellinger a new contract, the Dodgers might be interested in keeping the 27-year-old player around if they miss out on their targets in free agency. However, any potential deal would likely be at a much lower number compared to this past season.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that this is a closing of the chapter of Cody and the Dodgers,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said about the decision.

If the Dodgers don’t return for Bellinger, he might settle for a one-year, prove-it deal with a different franchise. There should be an interest in him, especially if teams believe he can recapture some of his old magic with a change of scenery.

 When he entered the majors, Cody Bellinger looked like he will be the next legendary Dodger. He earned an All-Star nod in his rookie career before winning the NL MVP honors in 2019. After that, however, things went sideways for Scottsdale, Arizona.

Bellinger has been struggling with injuries and productivity since his MVP campaign wrapped up. This was especially the case in 2021 when he only played 95 games, batting .165 and hitting 10 homers. He launched 19 home runs in 2022, but his batting average of .210 was still far below expected.

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