2. New York Mets
Now, if we’re talking about contenders who can afford the financial risk in case Bellinger never slingshots back to the top of the MVP conversation, the Mets are No. 1 with a bullet. They’re also No. 1 with a center field vacancy, considering incumbent Brandon Nimmo is more than likely going to chase the money and depart Citi Field.
Nimmo spent the past few years remaking himself as both a durable cog and an impressive defender, but Bellinger’s instincts for the position are a little more natural. Belli’s value depends almost entirely on his ability to mash between 20-25 homers, though; without the bat snapping back to reality, he might as well be a $17 million Kevin Kiermaier.
The Mets are one of very few teams in the Dodgers’ stratosphere who could afford to pay Bellinger an escalated salary on the oft chance he returns to MVP form. Surely, their lurking presence is one reason the Dodgers are so hesitant to part ways with their slugger, even though they know they’re unlikely to turn back the clock by keeping him.
If they non-tender Bellinger, he’s not going to an also-ran. He’s going to a team the Dodgers will likely see standing in their way come October.
If Steve Cohen really does want to be Dodgers East, he could do worse than throwing a lawn dart at a suddenly-loose Bellinger. Might want to move in those right-center field fences even further, though.