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Former NL MVP Cody Bellinger seeking a specific contract in MLB free agency

Matt Johnson

Cody Bellinger seemed destined to become one of the highest paid MLB players after winning NL MVP in 2019 and earning a Gold Glove Award. Just three years later, the Los Angeles Dodgers non-tendered him to remove him from the roster and allow him to become a free agent.

The 6-foot-4 outfielder showed MVP potential as a rookie, hitting 39 home runs with 97 RBI, 10 steals, a 138 wRC+ and a .933 OPS in 132 games. While he regressed a bit in 2018, slashing .260/.343/.470 with 25 home runs, it all led to a phenomenal 2019 season.

In his third year in the majors, Bellinger hit 47 home runs with 121 runs scored, 115 RBI and posted an outstanding .305/.406/.629 slash line and a 1.035 OPS. Even after cooling off a bit late in the year, the numbers were more than enough to win NL MVP.

Related: MLB free agency rumors

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, things spiraled downward after that. Bellinger posted a .239/.333/.455 slash line in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. After a disappointing tear, the star outfielder kept tweaking his mechanics and it had disastrous results.

  • Cody Bellinger stats (2021-’22): .193/.256/.355, 29 home runs, .611 OPS in 900 PAs

After two disappointing seasons, Los Angeles non-tendered its former star to avoid paying him a projected $18 million salary in 2023. Immediately after becoming a free agent, MLB teams started calling with interest in taking a shot on him as a reclamation project.

Boras’s agent Scott Boras told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that Bellinger has already received multiple contract offers from teams. However, no deal is imminent because the proposals were all multi-year contracts and that is a dealbreaker right now.

“I’ve already been offered multi-years, most likely, because of his age. We don’t want a multi-year.”

Scott Boras on Cody Bellinger in free agency

Neither perspective is a surprise. Clubs who want to add Bellinger likely see adjustments they can make with his approach and swing to help him become a 30-homer hitter once again. With that confidence comes a desire to keep Bellinger for multiple seasons, not allowing a rival club to cash in a year later for the work a team put in with Bellinger.

There is also very little incentive for the 27-year-old to sign a deal that keeps him under club control for multiple seasons. He is entering free agency at a low point in his career, minimizing the potential earnings he can make.

Related: 3 potential Landing spots for Cody Bellinger

The Toronto Blue Jays are among the teams expected to be involved in the bidding war for Bellinger. Considering the defensive value he offers paired with his positional versatility and the upside he offers at the plate, at least half a dozen teams will likely pursue him.