Shoutout to Tom Ricketts and the Chicago Cubs for opting to flex their financial muscles this offseason, because their spending spree could not have come at a better time for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In order to craft their current roster, featuring both veteran leadership and a transition to younger talent, the Dodgers absorbed one of the Cubs' sunk costs, then let their high-priced former MVP listen to Chicago's overtures.
So far, both decisions have had pleasant ripple effects in Los Angeles, while Chicago has borne the brunt of a pair of paychecks.
Cody Bellinger's cost finally became too much for the Dodgers to absorb this offseason after yet another below-average 2022 season (and it doesn't sound as if the end of the relationship was particularly pleasant). He was eventually snapped up by the Cubbies on a one-year, $17.5 million deal with a mutual option for 2024 (and potentially mutually-assured destruction, depending on how 2023 goes). Bellinger recorded one hit (a home run, of course) through the first 15 at-bats of his season.
In Bellinger's spot, the Dodgers have decided to roll with top prospect James Outman, a decision that has paid immediate dividends. For moral support (and rocking a revamped swing), they also decided to import Freddie Freeman's old Braves teammate Jason Heyward. You might also remember Heyward from his Cubs non-tender, a decision that saddled Chicago with over $20 million in additional debt. So far? Very good.
Dodger stars James Outman, Jason Heyward cost nothing compared to Cubs' payroll concerns
Almost $39 million of cash on the Cubbies' books?! With that kind of leftover dough, the Dodgers could afford nearly 10 more James Outmans and 10 more Jason Heywards.
Though the season is young, Outman appears to have all the potential in the world to surpass Bellinger's recent production, landing in a beautiful middle ground between MVP-level dominance and unplayable sadness. He's gone 4-for-12 with a homer to start the season after going 6-for-13 with a bomb in limited duty last year. Why was his duty so limited?! Ah, right. Bellinger.
Meanwhile, Heyward also sports a resurgent small-sample-size 1.119 OPS with a blast and three RBI in six at-bats, and we thank Chicago very much for telling their most famous Rain Delay Orator of All Time to take a hike.
Money well spent on paying him to play for somebody else while adding Dansby Swanson and remaining a .500-ish team (and losing Willson Contreras to the Cardinals) for sure.