The Los Angeles Dodgers finally cut bait with Cody Bellinger this offseason following a see-saw several years in the wake of his 2019 MVP campaign.
Following his obvious peak, Bellinger scuffled in 2020 before homering the Dodgers to an NLCS comeback over the Braves and first World Series of the era. He refused to ride that momentum into 2021, subtracting 1.0 WAR from one of the greatest teams in Dodgers history. It was one of the most unfathomably bad years a former MVP has ever had, evoking the name Zoilo Versalles for the first time in decades.
Naturally, in classic Bellinger fashion, he even redeemed that disaster slightly by ripping a crucial game-breaking single off the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS and hammering a game-tying three-run shot against the Braves in the next round.
The Dodgers just couldn't quit this dude, which made it all the more shocking when they finally cut bait this offseason.
Bellinger went to the Cubs, and weeks later remains the centerpiece of their underwhelming offseason. Now that his one-year deal is official and the terms have been released by FanSided's Robert Murray, it's not abundantly clear why the Dodgers couldn't have come to a similar conclusion after tearing up his escalating arbitration salary (though Scott Boras' presence is an obvious reason why).
Cubs' Cody Bellinger contract details
Bellinger's "$17.5 million guarantee" is broken down in the modern, en vogue way; $12.5 million at the start of the season, followed by either a $25 million deal for 2024 OR an additional $5 million worth of buyout money at the end of the year.
Consider the $5 million the more likely outcome, though. If Bellinger rakes while patrolling the Ivy spectacularly, he'll be due a good deal more than $25 million next season, and at the age of 28, will have a Bull Market ahead of him, where seven-year deals are surrendered like lollipops. Odds are he won't want to take a chance on proving himself a fluke by sticking around another season.
That said, the Dodgers just finished paying him $16.1 million in 2021, then followed up that horrific season with a $900,000 raise. You'd think they would've been interested in the immediate $12.5 million payment as their roster underwent an extreme period of transition.
After all, even if Bellinger becomes James Outman's backup by May, that's not a lot of money to waste. But what do we know? We're not the ones in the room with Boras, and playing time (and wind) will be plentiful at Wrigley. Maybe Bellinger demanded a clean break.