Just a few short seasons ago, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger won the National League MVP award. Yet, fast forward to the present and it remains a mystery if he will even be on the Dodgers come Opening Day 2023.
Bellinger still remains a key piece of the Dodgers roster but over the last few seasons has seen his production fall. He has changed his swing up a few times to try and re-kindle the magic of his 2019 season but nothing has quite worked out.
After another subpar season in blue, the Dodgers now face the unprecedented decision whether or not to offer Bellinger a contract for his final year of arbitration. He would make around $17 million for the season if they choose to do so.
Bellinger had a better 2022 than his injury-hampered 2021 but he still faced similar stuggles at the plate. If he isn’t hitting home runs, then he isn;t really hitting. His defense is still great but he has become somewhat of a liability at the plate.
In 2022, he hit just .210/.265/.389 with 19 home runs in 144 games. He was 104th in slugging percentage and didn’t get the start in the final two games of the postseason, once against a right-handed pitcher.
Ironically, other than his 2017 performance, Bellinger has been a very good postseason hitter. He was key in the teams postseason run in 2021 despite the poor regualr season that he had.
Comments from Dodgers president Andrew Friedman suggest that the team may be leaning towards giving the 27-year-old a contract offer. He has talked about how Bellinger has the “talent and work ethic” needed to get him back to his previous form.
On Cody Bellinger, Andrew Friedman said "it's a great question" when asked about his future.
"I still very much believe in the talent and ability. I've watched how hard he has worked and how much he cares," Friedman added.
— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) November 9, 2022
The outfielder may be too valuable to the roster to just let him go. The Dodgers should allow Bellinger one more season to show them that he is worth a roster spot. He is too talented, even with the stuggles that he has seen.
The team has until Friday, November 18th to decide what to do with Bellinger as that is the deadline to tender contracts to players on the 40-man roster.
Will the team bank on his potential to rebound once again or will they decide that enough is enough? This is a major decision coming for Friedman as Bellinger has been a mainstay with the team since his emergence in 2017.