Dodgers Free Agency Rumors: Interest In Kevin Kiermaier

The Los Angeles Dodgers made the decision to non-tender Cody Bellinger, which immediately thrust him into free agency and created an opening in center field.

Although Bellinger could return on a reworked contract, the Dodgers have internal options who can play center, including James Outman, Trayce Thompson and Chris Taylor. There are also higher-end free agent options, such as Aaron Judge and Brandon Nimmo.

However, if the Dodgers want an outside replacement at a cheaper cost, their free agent options are limited to Kevin Kiermaier, Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Pillar and Lewis Brinson in free agency, or going the trade route.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Dodgers have already shown interest in Kiermaier:

Kiermaier has spent 10 seasons at the Major League level, all coming with the Tampa Bay Rays. He is a career .248/.308/.407 hitter with 82 home runs, 316 RBI, 410 runs scored, 112 stolen bases, a 97 wRC+ and 23.3 WAR in 914 games.

While the 32-year-old has never been much of an offensive threat, he has been among the best defensive outfielders in baseball over the course of his career, winning three Gold Glove Awards and a Platinum Glove.

Kiermaier has produced 71 outs above average since Statcast began tracking that in 2016 while producing a success rate of 4% over the estimated success rate of his plays.

He has also ranked in the 92nd percentile of arm strength over the past three seasons with an elite sprint speed that ranks in the 93rd percentile of players, coming in at 29.2 feet per second over the past two seasons. For comparison, Trea Turner posted a sprint speed of 30.3 feet per second last season.

Essentially, Kiermaier would be a cheaper version of what Bellinger has been over the past two seasons, but he also comes with lower offensive upside and a similar floor. Last season, Kiermaier hit .228/.281/.369 with a 90 wRC+ and 1.1 WAR across 63 games while Bellinger batted .210/.265/.389 with an 83 wRC+ and 1.7 WAR across 144 games.

Cody Bellinger free agent market

With Bellinger now on the market, multiple teams are reportedly interested in the 2019 National League MVP, including the Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, Miami Marlins and Rays. Despite Bellinger’s struggles, he should be a popular name for teams in need of a center fielder due to his defense and power combination.

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