Cody Bellinger found himself on the move in the free-agent market just four seasons after he won the National League MVP award with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Bellinger agreed to a one-year, $17.5 million deal with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, MLB.com reported. Bellinger was non-tendered by the Dodgers last month after becoming a force in the lineup.
In 745 games, he hit .248 with a .819 OPS and 152 home runs. However, over the last two seasons, the outfielder had been hurt and fell into a slump in 2022. He played in only 95 games in 2021 after leading the Dodgers to a World Series title in 2020. In 144 games in 2022, he only hit .210 with 19 home runs and 27 doubles.
Bellinger will join a Cubs team that finished 74-88 and in the middle of the National League Central division. The team has only made the playoffs once since 2019 – in the 2020 coronavirus pandemic-impacted season. The team has failed to reach 80 wins in its last two seasons.
Cubs manager David Ross was on MLB Network when he heard of the Bellinger report.
“He’s got a track record of a lot of success and dynamic defense,” Ross said. “I remember when he first got in the league. First base, smooth hands, dynamic center fielder, great outfielder. You know, he hasn’t had the success he had early on, but definitely a lot of potential for a great player.”
Ross believed injuries made a major impact on Bellinger’s game over the last two seasons.
“That’s got to play a part in it,” Ross added. “Playing through an injury, trying to come back and learning how to balance wanting to be out on the field and actually getting fully healthy, I think is what a lot of players — in my experience — deal with.
“And trying to rush back and maybe not getting all the way there. And then getting into a space where, you know, you’ve got a leg issue, you’ve got a shoulder issue, and you get into some bad habits, or bad habits create mistakes or make it tougher to hit. And then you get into this rabbit hole of chasing the feeling that you used to have and where you’re at mechanically.”