2) Cody Bellinger had an insanely impressive start to his career, but he’s struggled over the last couple of years and recently got non-tendered by the Dodgers
Bellinger had the worst full season of his career in 2022. He slashed .210/.265/.389/.654 with 19 homers, 27 doubles, 70 runs scored, and 68 RBI’s. His OPS+ was 78. He only had two offensive Savant categories over the 89th percentile; his average exit velocity was in the 57th percentile, and his barrel rate was in the 54th percentile.
Defense is what kept Bellinger in the lineup. His offensive struggles never interfered with his elite defense in center field, as he posted seven Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) in center field. That was in the 92nd percentile, his sprint speed was in the 71st percentile, and his outfielder jump and arm strength were both in the 65th percentile.
It’s good timing for Bellinger to be a free agent because the center field market is really thin, as per usual. Brandon Nimmo is the top option available, but Bellinger slots in next on the list. He will get a chance to prove himself because of his defense alone, plus the hope that the hitting coaches for whatever team he signs with can return him to his peak offensive output.
Bellinger was projected to get about $18 million in arbitration, which was just too much after his offensive struggles. He won’t get that as a free agent either, but I think it’s fair to expect him to get around $10 million. Scott Boras already announced that they only want a one-year deal so he can fix his swing and hit free agency again next year, hopefully with an improved swing. If the Mets don’t get Nimmo, they should absolutely pursue Bellinger.