Report: Cody Bellinger, 2019 NL MVP, and Cubs agree to 1-year, $17.5 million deal | News, results, highlights, statistics and rumors

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Free agent outfielder Cody Bellinger is reportedly set to sign with the Chicago Cubs.

jon hayman of New York Post reported that Bellinger will join the Cubs, and ESPN’s jeff passan noted that he will have a one-year contract and $17.5 million.

The Los Angeles Dodgers did not offer Bellinger after the end of the 2022 MLB season, a decision that symbolized how precipitously his stock has fallen since he was named the National League MVP in 2019.

In 504 plate appearances in 2022, Bellinger struck out 150 times while hitting .210 and slugging .389. He also had 19 home runs and 68 RBIs.

“Obviously, it’s been a unique path for Cody as he battled injuries and worked diligently over the past few years to return to his all-star caliber performance,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “However, he has not developed as well as we had hoped or expected and therefore we had to make the difficult decision not to bid.”

Bellinger could have opted to return to Los Angeles for less than the $18-20 million he could have earned by 2023, but a fresh start should benefit him more.

When the 27-year-old’s performance declined markedly in 2020, it was easy to chalk it up to the challenges presented by the season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. After he played even worse in 2021, it was cause for concern.

A third straight offensively poor season for Bellinger raises serious questions about whether there will be any comeback from here.

Among hitters with at least 1,000 plate appearances since 2020, the two-time All-Star owns the fifth-lowest wOBA (.281) and is tied with Myles Straw for the fourth-worst wRC+ (78), according to FanGraphs.

Nothing symbolizes Bellinger’s downturn more than his swing.

Watching the 6’4″ slugger connect was a thing of beauty when he first entered the MLB in 2017 and won MVP.

los angeles dodgers @dodgers

that swing of @Cody_Bellinger.

bellinger decided modify your swing in 2020, however. He then suffered a shoulder injury that required further adjustment. His continual swings since point to a hitter who has simply lost confidence.

Bill Plunket @billplunkettocr

He said he reverted to the more familiar hand position because he feels strong again (after shoulder surgery) and “group effort” with hitting coaches, watching video feedback on his barrel angle before contact.

If Bellinger’s problems boil down to mechanical failure, then at least it might be somewhat fixable. But more changes could exacerbate the situation, especially if they reflect deeper psychological dynamics at play. Think of a defender getting the “yips.”

Given how good he was starting his MLB career, Bellinger is a tempting recovery project. And amid the crater of his offense, he’s still a great defender and an effective baserunner.

The risk behind this move is obvious, but the upside makes the tactic easily justifiable for Chicago.

The Cubs went 74-88 in 2022, the first full season after they eliminated nearly all remaining vestiges of their 2016 World Series title. Barring a massive investment from ownership, it could be another year of average returns. in the field in the Windy City.

If that’s really the plan, Bellinger could thrive without the daily scrutiny that comes with preparing for a title-chasing franchise.

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