It’s no secret Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger stumbled through the 2021 season, falling to all-time low numbers at the plate. He posted a triple slash of .165/.240/.302 with 10 home runs and nine doubles in 95 games. Injuries certainly played a significant factor, but he couldn’t find his rhythm.
Despite that, Bellinger stepped up in the postseason, hitting .353 with a home run and seven RBI in 12 games. However, his batting struggles have cropped up again, striking out in 14 out of his first 19 spring training at-bats.
The Dodgers haven’t expressed any concern, nor should they at this point, but it adds to the questions concerning Bellinger’s long-term future. He’s playing under a $17 million salary in 2022 and is up for arbitration next offseason before his scheduled free agency in 2024.
If the Dodgers ever explore the trade route, here are three possible landing spots for the former NL MVP.
New York Mets
It’s hard not to include the Mets in any major trade scenario, given their newfound aggressiveness under owner Steve Cohen.
The organization has shown no fear in swinging for the fences to bring a big-name talent aboard. Cody Bellinger falls directly into that category, especially as a young talent the franchise could build around. Bellinger would be heading to another major market where the pressure to perform remains, but he would have the chance to shine in a prominent role.
Although he would shift the Mets’ outfield situation, he would provide a significant upgrade defensively. He also wouldn’t have the responsibility as the primary run producer. He would slide into the middle of the order behind or before Pete Alonso in the cleanup spot or be sandwiched between Robinson Cano and Eduardo Escobar.
New York will have a balanced lineup if Francisco Lindor can bounce back in the second year of his massive contract. Bellinger would only add more home run pop and a proven playoff presence.
Ultimately, if the former NL MVP becomes available, expect the Mets to make a run at him.
The Marlins are a team clearly in the rebuilding process, but pushing to land Bellinger wouldn’t be a lateral move.
The two-time All-Star would immediately step into the meat of the lineup as a significant offensive factor. Although he’s struggled to find his footing at the plate, he would get every opportunity to shine as the go-to hitter in Miami.
The Marlins also wouldn’t show any fear in offering him a lucrative deal, enticing him into making the organization his long-term home.
Miami previously held an interest in acquiring Bellinger in 2019, but there was no chance the Dodgers would trade him after his MVP campaign. He could now fall into any part of the middle of the batting order to add more power alongside offseason addition Jorge Soler.
The Marlins are not the most appealing landing spot, but the team could make a push to land Bellinger if he becomes available.
Despite having an extremely shortened offseason, the Mariners have quietly strung together several key roster moves.
Seattle quietly pulled off a surprising trade to acquire outfielder Jesse Winkler and third baseman Eugenio Suarez from the Cincinnati Reds. The organization wants to build off last season’s success after winning 90 games and narrowly missing out on the playoffs.
Adding some pop in the lineup with Cody Bellinger could give them a formidable middle of the lineup. The 26-year-old offers versatility, playing at a high defensive level as an outfielder and first baseman. The Mariners could play him at DH if they desired to keep the outfield flexibility for Jarred Kelenic to blossom into an everyday player.
Kelenic showed flashes of potential in 2021 but struggled to find consistency, hitting .181 with 106 strikeouts in 93 games. The Mariners want to see what the 22-year-old is capable of doing in an entire season before making significant changes to his role.
Nonetheless, Bellinger would serve as a strong asset in the lineup with the chance to re-establish himself as a feared hitter.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.