Cody Bellinger was an intriguing addition to the free-agent market last month after the Los Angeles Dodgers non-tendered him. Despite recent struggles, he drew significant interest from teams due to his track record and the fact that he is just entering his prime.
While the Dodgers had interest in re-signing him, Bellinger ultimately joined the Chicago Cubs on a one-year contract. The signing was finalized this week, which reportedly includes a $12.5 million base salary next season and a mutual option for 2024.
Bellinger had been part of the Dodgers organization since he was selected in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB Draft. As he gets ready for the next chapter in his career, the 27-year-old took to Instagram to thank his teammates, coaches and Dodgers fans for making the last six seasons memorable.
Bellinger’s first three seasons with the Dodgers were successful as he earned National League Rookie of the Year honors in 2017, two All-Star Game appearances, the 2019 NL MVP Award, a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.
However, Bellinger went on to hit .203/.272/.376 with 46 doubles, 41 home runs and 134 RBI in 295 games over the ensuing three seasons. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts believes a change of scenery could help him get back on track.
“I’m excited for Cody,” Roberts said during the Winter Meetings in San Diego. “He was very good for me. He was a very good Dodger. He grew a lot. And I wish him well. And I’m very grateful to be able to manage him for six years.”
“I don’t think the skillset’s changed. Certainly he’s motivated. Maybe a change of scenery will be beneficial. I know David Ross, I know Jedd (Hoyer). So the environment’s going to be good for him. And again, I wish nothing but the best for Cody.”
Dodgers searching for Cody Bellinger replacement
With Bellinger heading to the North Side, the Dodgers need to find a replacement for him in center field. The club currently projects to have Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor, Trayce Thompson, and potentially Jason Heyward and James Outman as outfielders on their Opening Day roster for 2023.
Heyward was recently signed to a Minor League contract and played 26 games (23 starts) in center field for the Cubs this past season, which was a position he hadn’t manned since 2019.
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