Rockies reportedly interested in former MVP who would thrive at Coors
The Rockies desperately need a centerfielder with a nice glove and great bat, could Colorado ink a former National League MVP who the Dodgers wouldn’t pony up to pay?
According to Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post, the Rockies are interested in the recently non-tendered outfielder Cody Bellinger. The 2017 NL Rookie of the Year and 2019 NL MVP has also been tied to several teams since the Dodgers set him free last week. The market for Bellinger is a very interesting one since the high-salaried Dodgers weren’t comfortable with a possible arbitration price of just under about $20 million.
The issue is the Dodgers clearly did not believe Bellinger can return to his previous heights or, at the very least, thought the risk wasn’t worth taking. Bellinger has slashed just .193/.256/.355 over the past two seasons. His career has been completely impacted by a shoulder injury in 2020, and he’s a costly reclamation project.
But he also fits the Rockies very well, considering Colorado’s centerfielder’s as a whole were 35% worse than league average at the plate, slashing .240/.298/.334. The Rockies centerfielders weren’t particularly good on defense, either.
Bellinger has been worse at the plate than the Rockies outfielders, but a roll of the dice could cash on a player who once hit .305 with 47 homers just a few years ago and is still 27 years old. Plus, Bellinger has always been a plus or at least an average defender with versatility. Playing center primarily in the bigs, he came up at first base and has played corner outfield spots too.
Bellinger, a left-handed hitter, could also help balance the Rockies lineup, which was very right-hand heavy this past season. Only Ryan McMahon and Charlie Blackmon hit from the left side, but top prospect Ezequiel Tovar is a switch hitter, and the recently acquired Nolan Jones also swings left-handed.
Bellinger has also owned Coors Field; it’s his favorite park to hit at among stadiums where he has played more than 10 games, OPS’ing .924 in 191 plate appearances in Denver.
Bellinger’s price is tough to project, especially considering his agent and what he said. Bellinger is represented by super-agent Scott Boras, who has said the former Dodger is likely to sign a one-year deal. This could drive up the price on Bellinger quite a bit.
The price tag is the crux for Colorado, which is already projected to shatter its previous franchise record for payroll. That mark came in 2019 when they spent $145.3MM. The Rockies are projected to be just under $160 million this coming season now and have only made minor moves.
On the flip side, paring the 2016 MVP, Kris Byrant, and the 2019 NL MVP in the middle of the order could lead to a quick turnaround for the Rockies after a forgettable season.