Cody Bellinger was among the Los Angeles Dodgers players non-tendered, making the 2019 National League MVP a free agent after a third consecutive subpar season.
Bellinger was set to go through the arbitration process for the fourth and final time of his career. He made $17 million this past season and was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive an $18.1 million salary for 2023.
While the Dodgers had interest in re-signing Bellinger, he wound up joining the Chicago Cubs on a one-year, $12.5 million contract that includes a mutual option for the 2024 season.
With a need in the outfield, there had been speculation the Dodgers could make a bigger run at Aaron Judge. However, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the team could fill the void in center field with Chris Taylor, Trayce Thompson and James Outman, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
Friedman mentioned Chris Taylor, Thompson and Outman as internal options to replace Bellinger as the primary center fielder and would not say Friday’s move puts them in the market to acquire an outfielder.
Taylor has made 196 appearances in center field since the 2017 season, but arguably is more valuable to the Dodgers in a utility role. Meanwhile, Thompson and Outman are primarily corner outfielders, with only the former having Major League experience in center field.
Given those factors, it would be a surprise if the Dodgers didn’t acquire another outfielder at some point this offseason. Although at this stage in the offseason, that may come via trade rather than free agency.
Andrew Friedman: Cody Bellinger took non-tender decision like ‘total pro’
The decision to non-tender Bellinger was a difficult one as he had been part of the Dodgers organization since being selected in the fourth round of the MLB Draft.
Friedman personally called Bellinger to inform him of the move and praised him for being understanding.
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