Dodgers Rumors: 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger to Be Non-Tendered, Will Become Free Agent

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVNovember 18, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 11: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reaches first base on a fielding error by the San Diego Padres during the third inning in game one of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers are reportedly planning to non-tender outfielder Cody Bellinger, which would make him a free agent.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the news Friday but added that the Dodgers could still try to sign him in free agency, likely for less than the projected $18 million he would have received in arbitration.

The 27-year-old Bellinger has largely struggled the past three seasons, but he was named National League MVP in 2019.

Bellinger was named an All-Star and NL Rookie of the Year in 2017 when he hit .267 with 39 home runs and 97 RBI, and after his production dropped off to .260 with 25 homers and 76 RBI in 2018, he bounced back in a big way the following season.

Appearing in 156 games during the 2019 campaign, Bellinger set career marks across the board by hitting .305 with 47 home runs, 115 RBI, 121 runs scored and 15 stolen bases. In addition to winning the NL MVP Award, Bellinger was named an All-Star for the second time and won his first and only Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards.

Bellinger has largely failed to recapture that magic, however, hitting .239 with 12 homers and 30 RBI in 56 games in 2020, .165 with 10 home runs and 36 RBI in 95 games in 2021 and .210 with 19 home runs and 68 RBI in 144 games this past season.

Even so, he did play a significant role in the Dodgers' World Series-winning campaign of 2020, clubbing four round-trippers during that playoff run.

Bellinger was essentially a non-factor in the 2022 playoffs, though, with just one hit in seven at-bats during L.A.'s National League Division Series loss to the San Diego Padres.

If Bellinger hits free agency, he will be part of a long list of key free agents the Dodgers could lose this offseason.

Starting pitcher Tyler Anderson already signed with the Los Angeles Angels, plus shortstop Trea Turner, third baseman Justin Turner, reliever Craig Kimbrel, outfielder Joey Gallo and starting pitcher Andrew Heaney are all on the open market.

In terms of outfielders, Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor and Trayce Thompson are set to return from last year's team, but the Dodgers will have a depth issue if both Bellinger and Gallo walk.

Bellinger has been nowhere near the player he was in 2019 over the past three seasons, but he could still have value to the Dodgers as a left power bat or be a high-ceiling reclamation project for a team in search of a potential steal.