5 landing spots for Bellinger: Who could sign the former MVP?
Cody Bellinger is a free agent after the Los Angeles Dodgers decided to non-tender the 2019 NL MVP following a massive offensive decline over the past two seasons.
Despite his struggles at the plate, Bellinger still presents plenty of intrigue since he's only 27, is a solid defensive outfielder, and brings a left-handed bat with power, and will likely sign a one-year deal cheaper than the $18.1 million he was set to make through arbitration.
Bellinger's agent, Scott Boras, said the player has already turned down multi-year pacts, instead focusing on a one-year contract because of his age, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Los Angeles has acknowledged it's interested in a reunion. However, here are five other landing spots for Bellinger as he tests the open market.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox need outfield help, and playing at a hitter's park like Fenway could revitalize Bellinger's career before he tests free agency again after the 2023 campaign. The two-time All-Star can also man first base, which would be a bonus for Boston because rookie Triston Casas is currently projected to start the campaign as the regular first baseman. Bellinger, who's logged 262 games at first over his career, could be a good insurance policy. The one drawback for Bellinger is that he'd be playing in the pressure cooker that is Boston, even though the club isn't expected to contend next season. Red Sox fans wouldn't be forgiving if he continues to struggle, which isn't exactly what players need when trying to rediscover their game.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have a glaring hole in the outfield. Prospect Oscar Colas is currently projected as the starting right fielder, but it's hard to envision a team with playoff aspirations going with a 24-year-old rookie to start 2023. Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez have also dealt with significant injuries during their brief careers. Signing Bellinger would help Chicago fill a void if either star outfielder were to miss long stretches next season. Bellinger would also have to deal with less pressure hitting in a good lineup that already features Robert, Jimenez, Tim Anderson, Andrew Vaughn, Yasmani Grandal, and Yoan Moncada.
San Francisco Giants
Seeing Bellinger in a Giants uniform would be weird considering he spent six years with the rival Dodgers, which included a fierce five-game NLDS in 2021. Regardless of the history, San Francisco has the money to spend to add some star power to an outfield featuring LaMonte Wade Jr., Luis Gonzalez, Mike Yastrzemski, and Joc Pederson. Bellinger, who went deep 19 times in 2022, could add another long-ball threat to a team that had only one player record 20-plus home runs. The 2017 NL Rookie of the Year could also be a contingency plan if Aaron Judge re-signs with the New York Yankees.
The Rangers could give Bellinger an opportunity to play center field - a position he's logged 321 contests at. The former Gold Glover has also amassed 34 defensive runs saved in the outfield throughout his career. Bellinger is familiar with Globe Life Field, as he hit three homers there in 2020 between the NLCS and World Series en route to the Dodgers' title. However, he also infamously dislocated his shoulder celebrating one of those long balls - an injury that changed the trajectory of his career.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have a Teoscar Hernandez-sized hole in their outfield after trading the star slugger to the Seattle Mariners. Toronto is reportedly interested in adding Brandon Nimmo through free agency, but the former New York Mets star is the best outfielder available outside of Judge and should have plenty of suitors lined up. The Blue Jays could look at Bellinger as a backup plan. The club is looking for a left-handed bat to balance out a lineup that was extremely righty-heavy last season, and George Springer has already said he's willing to move out of center field to help the team. Bellinger would have a chance to play at a great hitter's park in Toronto without the pressure of being "the guy" in a very deep offense.