The Toronto Blue Jays could look outside the box while attempting to shake up their outfield corps this offseason.
These factors could lead the team to add a new player to the mix, ideally, one who could play centre field and who hits left-handed.
Blue Jays: Could Cody Bellinger be non-tendered?
Three years ago, it would be unimaginable for the Los Angeles Dodgers to want to move on from Cody Bellinger. He captured the NL MVP in 2019 after a scintillating year that saw him hit 47 homers and lead the league with 351 total bases.
However, since then, Bellinger has had a stunning fall from grace. He’s hit just .239, .165, and .210 over the last three years while struggling to stay on the field with a variety of injuries. His power numbers haven’t approached league-average since 2020 although he’s a plus-defender in centre field.
Bellinger earned $17 million in 2022 and MLB Trade Rumours predicts an $18.1 million contract for the Arizona product, who will be entering his last year of arbitration in 2023. That’s a lot to pay for a defence-first outfielder with an injury history. There’s no guarantee the Dodgers don’t non-tender him before this Friday's deadline. If they do, he will be free to sign with any team in the majors.
Blue Jays: Bellinger, the fit, and the price
If Bellinger is non-tendered and the Jays make the move to sign him, it’s fair to wonder how he’d fit on the team and what his role might be.
While it’s easier to envision Bellinger being on the team if one of Gurriel Jr. or Hernández gets traded or if Raimel Tapia is non-tendered, the Dodgers outfielder has shown versatility throughout his career and could play at four different spots and DH occasionally.
Ideally, Bellinger would be another reliable option in centre field, play some corner outfield (mostly in right), and play first base when needed as well. His left-handed bat would likely fit somewhere in the middle of the Jays' lineup and he wouldn’t be under a lot of pressure to be one of the main guys offensively, which could really help in his approach.
If the Blue Jays are able to entice Bellinger to come north of the border, what would the contract look like? Marcus Semien signed with Toronto after his market dried up following a disappointing 2020 season and he inked a pact for one year and $18 million. A similar deal for Bellinger could make sense, as Bellinger would likely have a list of suitors looking for him to bounce back should he become available.
It’s hard to see the Dodgers offering Bellinger an arbitration contract and then trading him. But what if the two teams worked out a trade?
There is history between both teams, as the Jays traded away a pair of prospects to the Dodgers in the Mitch White deal at the deadline and may be careful doing so again in order to obtain a struggling player. The whole idea of acquiring Bellinger is a risky one, but if he can regain the form he showed a few years ago, it would be well worth it for a Blue Jays squad looking to make the World Series in 2023.