The Dodgers have struck a record-breaking arbitration deal with outfielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger, per Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). Bellinger is said to have a $11.5MM pact, topping the prior record (Kris Bryant, $10.85MM) for a first-time arb-eligible player.
Other top performers have also reached deals. Corey Seager will play at a $7.6MM salary. And utilityman Enrique Hernandez will earn $5.9MM, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register (Twitter link).
Bellinger lands right at the projection of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. As Matt explained in a closer look, though, there was an argument for the reigning NL MVP to earn even more. He’ll still end up setting a new high-water mark for arbitration rookies by a fairly healthy margin.
Entering 2019, Bellinger had already established himself as a high-quality hitter and versatile defender. But he took things to a whole new level in his age-23 season, slashing a hefty .305/.406/.629 and launching 47 home runs while delivering big value on the bases and with the glove.
The projections were also close for Seager ($7.1MM) and Hernandez ($5.5MM). Both players were at less than top form in 2019 but remain key contributors — at least, unless they end up being shuffled out of the deck with a spring trade.