The Dodgers and Cody Bellinger agreed to a one-year, $16.1MM contract ahead of today’s arbitration deadline, per MLB Insider Jon Heyman (via Twitter). Bellinger made $11.5MM last season, a record amount for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Bellinger is represented by Scott Boras. As a Super-Two player, Bellinger has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining before his potential free agency following the 2023 season.
Bellinger’s record salary last season came on the heels of a National League MVP season in which he produced a .305/.406/.629 slash line and 7.1 bWAR. While his Dodgers got over the hump to win the World Series this season, Bellinger posted a mere mortal .239/.333/.455 line at the plate during the regular season. Despite seeing a year-over-year drop from 162 wRC+ to 114 wRC+ this season, the Dodgers saw fit to reward Bellinger with a sizable raise regardless. MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projected Bellinger would have received an arbitration award somewhere between $11.5MM and $15.9MM. The model based on 2020’s numbers alone was definitely too conservative, as he was going to get a raise of some sort, but it’s still interesting to see the Dodgers agree to a number beyond even our highest projection.
While Bellinger’s offensive numbers may have been down, he remained as central as ever to the Dodgers’ efforts. The 25-year-old led all of baseball with eight outs above average while manning centerfield for the Dodgers, which the Dodgers certainly could include in their valuation of Bellinger, even if arbitration panels don’t typically overly weigh defensive metrics such as OAA.