Dave Roberts: Dodgers Searching For Center Fielder To Replace Cody Bellinger

The Los Angeles Dodgers had interest in re-signing Cody Bellinger despite their decision to non-tender him, but that possibility came to a close on the second day of the Winter Meetings in San Diego when he agreed to sign with the Chicago Cubs.

Bellinger’s contract is a reported one-year deal with a mutual option for 2024 and worth a guaranteed $17.5 million. Even with his ongoing struggles the past few seasons, Bellinger largely remained an everyday starter for the Dodgers in center field.

Now that the former National League MVP is no longer is with the organization that selected him in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB Draft, the Dodgers have another need this offseason.

“We’re going to add an outfielder,” manager Dave Roberts said.

The Dodgers currently project to have Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor, Trayce Thompson and potentially James Outman as outfielders on their Opening Day roster. They were said to have interest in Aaron Judge, but he’s widely expected to re-sign with the New York Yankees or join the San Francisco Giants.

With the Dodgers canvassing free agency and the trade market for an outfielder, they specifically covet someone to play up the middle.

“I would say somebody that can manage center field is probably a top priority,” Roberts added.

He previously suggested Thompson was a candidate to play center field if needed. Outman could be another center fielder the Dodgers rely on if their search outside the organization does not turn up a suitable option.

Potential center fielders for Dodgers to sign in free agency

There isn’t much depth for free-agent outfielders, but among the top center fielders still available are Brandon Nimmo, Kevin Kiermaier, Rafael Ortega, Odúbel Herrera and Bradley Zimmer.

The Dodgers already have been linked to Kiermaier, who reached free agency after the Tampa Bay Rays declined their $13 million team option for 2023. Like Bellinger, Kiermaier has struggled at the plate but played steady defense in center field.

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman drafted Kiermaier during his time leading the Rays front office.

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