Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman made the difficult decision to non-tender Cody Bellinger at the deadline last week, making him a free agent.
Bellinger’s meteoric rise through the farm system earned him a call-up early in the 2017 season. He went on to slug 39 homers while driving in 97 runs and posting a .933 on-base plus slugging percentage in his first 132 games, earning himself the 2017 National League Rookie of the Year Award.
Bellinger went on to win NL MVP in 2019, but after suffering a shoulder injury during the 2020 postseason which eventually led to the franchise’s first World Series title since 1988, he never regained form. Bellinger’s non-tender became a realistic possibility after his third consecutive season in which he hadn’t improved in problematic areas.
Bellinger was entering his fourth year of salary arbitration after earning $17 million in 2022 and figured to see that number increase if the process played out.
Although the Dodgers elected to make the 27-year-old a free agent, Friedman said there is interest in re-signing Bellinger, via Juan Toribio of MLB.com:
“I wouldn’t necessarily say this is the closing of the chapter of Cody and the Dodgers,” Friedman said. “We still very much believe in the talent of Cody and his competitive makeup, and we have interest in a reunion and will continue talks with Cody and his group. And he gets to discuss this on his end.”
Friedman additionally revealed the Dodgers explored a Bellinger trade prior to the non-tender deadline.
It’s clear the Dodgers weren’t comfortable paying Bellinger what his salary would have been given his troubling production.
The Toronto Blue Jays had reported interest in Bellinger as the non-tender loomed and they look to add a left-handed bat to their already potent lineup.
Dodgers reported interest in Kevin Kiermaier after Cody Bellinger non-tender
Now that an opportunity in center field has opened up, the Dodgers could swing a few ways, work to bring back Bellinger, shift their sights to bringing in a veteran free agent, or using a number of options to fill the void.
James Outman, Trayce Thompson and Chris Taylor are all options to step into that role, but with free agency underway, the Dodgers have had reported interest in Kevin Kiermaier, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays.
The uber-talented defensive outfielder has won three Gold Glove Awards and a Platinum Glove while slashing .248/.308/.407 with 82 home runs, 316 RBI, 410 runs scored, 112 stolen bases, 97 wRC+, and 23.3 WAR in 914 career games.
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