In a move that shouldn’t be seen as too much of a surprise, the Toronto Blue Jays dealt away slugger Teoscar Hernández to the Seattle Mariners for two pitchers earlier this week.
Toronto had been looking to move Hernandez since it closed up shop on a playoff season. While the return was light, it gave the Jays’ some financial wriggle room to add to their core group.
That includes showing interest in New York Mets star Brandon Nimmo in MLB free agency. However, Toronto could very well be looking at another option.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the Jays have interest in Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder and 2019 National League MVP Cody Bellinger should he be non-tendered ahead of the deadline.
There’s a chance that Bellinger is in fact non-tendered by Los Angeles given his recent struggles and what the outfielder could earn in arbitration. A current estimate has that figure at roughly $16 million for the 2023 season.
These Dodgers have the likes of Mookie Betts and Chris Taylor likely set to start in the outfield next season. Fresh off a 111-win season, they have also been linked to American League home run king Aaron Judge in free agency. While we’re talking about one of the big-market teams in baseball, paying out $16 million to Bellinger might not make a ton of sense.
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Cody Bellinger as a fit for the Toronto Blue Jays
As noted above, Toronto traded away Hernández. The team didn’t view him as a long-term solution despite the outfielder combining for 57 homers over the past two seasons.
They want to replace that production on the cheap. Remember, Hernandez is slated to become a free agent after the 2023 season and will likely net $20-plus million annually.
A fourth-round pick of the Dodgers back in 2013, Bellinger earned the National League Rookie of the Year in 2017 before winning the MVP two years later. That season saw him put up some awe-inspiring numbers (47 HR, 115 RBI, .305 average, 1.035 OPS). Since then, it’s been downhill for the slugger.
- Cody Bellinger stats (2020-22): .203 average, 41 HR, 134 RBI, .648 OPS
Talk about a major decline in production for a player who is still only 27 years old and should be in his prime.
From the Toronto Blue Jays’ perspective, the hope here would be that Bellinger revives his career at the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre. But in order for this to happen, he’d have to actually hit the free-agent market. That’s no guarantee right now.