The Los Angeles Dodgers did not offer a tender contract to outfielder Cody Bellinger making him a free agent. The Washington Nationals have a hole in the outfield that needs to be filled. Could this be a match made in heaven, or at least for the short term? Rizzo has not been shy in offering one-year contracts to players (i.e., Kyle Schwarber) so offering the 2-time all-star, one-time MVP, Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove, and Silver Slugger Bellinger a one-year prove me contract could make total sense.
Bellinger’s combined .611 OPS the past two seasons was the lowest in the majors (minimum 3.1 plate appearances per team game played). But Boras is sticking to what he said at the general managers’ meetings in Las Vegas, that Bellinger’s issue was a lack of strength in his right shoulder, not a lack of skill.
Bellinger dislocated the shoulder several times in 2020, then re-injured it celebrating his home run in Game 7 of the NLCS while hitting forearms with teammate Enrique Hernández. He underwent surgery that November and hasn’t been the same hitter since.
During the 2022 season, Bellinger had a .210 batting average with a slugging percentage of .389 and an OPS of .654. He had a total of 504 at-bats, resulting in 68 RBI, 19 home runs, and 14 stolen bases.
In a recent interview with The Athletic, Bellinger’s agent Scott Boas suggested that the 27-year-old MVP is looking for a one-year contract as of now. “I’ve already been offered multi-years,” Boras said two days after the Dodgers declined to tender Bellinger a contract for 2023. “Most likely, because of his age, we don’t want a multi-year.”
Even though his offensive troubles, Bellinger remained an excellent defensive center fielder and baserunner. If he signs a one-year deal and continues rebounding at the plate — he improved from 10 homers and a .302 slugging percentage in 2021 to 19 homers and a .389 slug in 2022 — he could be a much more attractive free agent next offseason. The center field position is of scarcity in the majors and especially with the Washington Nationals. And Bellinger is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the shortage in the market.
What do you think? Do you think that the Nationals should take a chance on a one-year contract with Bellinger?