The Dodgers will not tender a contract to Cody Bellinger, reports Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic (Twitter link). Once finalized by the team, the 2019 NL MVP will be a free agent. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected Bellinger for an $18.1MM salary if tendered.
It’s not a surprising decision at this point, but it’s one nobody would’ve foreseen when he was collecting his MVP trophy three years ago. He blasted 47 home runs that season and posted an overall .305/.406/.629 line across 661 plate appearances. The left-handed hitter looked to have cemented himself as one of the sport’s preeminent sluggers, and he carried a career .278/.368/.559 mark in over 1800 plate appearances heading into 2020. At age 24, Bellinger seemed a budding superstar.
Unfortunately, things have gone south over the past few seasons. He stumbled a bit during the abbreviated 2020 campaign, putting up a .239/.333/.455 line in 56 games. That was still above-average production but a notable step back from the numbers of his first few seasons. A putrid .245 batting average on balls in play seemed to be a major cause of that, and one could certainly point to the anomalous circumstances that year in anticipating a bounceback.
That’s not how things have played out, seemingly in part due to an ill-advised celebration that postseason. Bellinger dislocated his right shoulder celebrating a crucial home run in Game 7 of the 2020 NLCS. While he played out the postseason, he underwent surgery in mid-November. Bellinger was healthy enough to open the 2021 campaign on the roster, but he battled a series of unrelated leg and rib issues. In between, his slash line plummeted to a meager .165/.240/.302 in 95 games.
More to come.