Cody Bellinger Rumors: Cubs Would Be Interested If Non-Tendered By Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a tough decision to make on the future of their center field position with Cody Bellinger entering his final year of being eligible for salary arbitration.

After consecutive poor seasons and James Outman waiting to take on an everyday role, the Dodgers may decide to move on from Bellinger and save more than $17 million by doing so.

Bellinger earned $17 million in 2022, and he is projected to earn $18.1 million through arbitration in 2023. With a high salary and minimal production, Bellinger is at risk of being non-tendered, which would make him a free agent. The deadline for players to be tendered a contract for 2023 is 5 p.m. PT on Friday, November 18.

If the Dodgers let Bellinger go to free agency, the Chicago Cubs are among the teams who would have interest in signing the 2019 National League MVP, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago:

But three-time Gold Glove centerfielder Kevin Kiermeier, who had his 2023 option declined by the Rays, and Bellinger are both on the Cubs’ radar, according to sources.

During the 2020 season, Bellinger dislocated his shoulder and underwent surgery after the World Series. The following year, he fractured his left leg. Following the injuries, Bellinger hit .165/.240/.302 with a 47 wRC+ in 2021 and provided -1.0 WAR in 95 games.

He rebounded slightly in 2022, batting .210/.265/.389 with an 83 wRC+ and 1.7 WAR in 144 games, but it still was far from the production expected from an everyday player, and especially from one with the career accolades the 27-year-old has achieved.

The Dodgers have expressed their confidence in Bellinger’s ability, but it would still be difficult to justify paying him nearly $20 million when he has not performed at a high level since 2019.

“Obviously, Belli’s had spurts of being really successful throughout the season and his elite defense has continued to be there,” general manager Brandon Gomes recently said. “We still think there’s upside, so those are discussions we’re going to have moving forward as we look into what 2023 looks like.”

Could the Dodgers re-sign Bellinger if they non-tender him?

If the Dodgers decide to non-tender Bellinger, they could still work to re-sign him on a more team-friendly contract. But that also comes with the risk of losing him to another team, such as the Cubs.

It could be a similar situation to the one the Dodgers find themselves in with Justin Turner, who they hope to bring back on a new deal despite declining his $16 million club option.

Along with the potential non-tender, it’s additionally believed the Dodgers are open to a Bellinger trade.

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