Why former NL MVP Cody Bellinger is not the right fit for the Reds

Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger
Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

There are a lot of Cincinnati Reds fans who would love to see the club actually go after some big-name free agents this offseason. And why not, right?

After all, the Reds have just two players (Joey Votto and Mike Moustakas) under contract for next season and after trading Kyle Farmer, Cincinnati likely lowered their 2023 payroll by another $3M.

One such free agent the fanbase has been clamoring about of late has been former NL MVP Cody Bellinger. The Los Angeles Dodgers designated Bellinger for assignment last week and the outfielder is now on the open market for the first time in his career. However, Bellinger may not be the type of player Cincinnati should be targeting in free agency.

Why Cody Bellinger is not the right fit for the Reds.

Let's get this out of the way first. The Cincinnati Reds can definitely meet the salary demands of Cody Bellinger. It's likely that the two-time All-Star will be searching for a one-year deal that would allow him to re-establish his value an enter free agency again following the 2023 season.

But while Cincinnati can certainly afford Bellinger's asking price, the Reds would be looking at the former Rookie of the Year as an expensive stop-gap option. There are other players available in free agency who would either be willing to signing a longer deal or cost much less.

There's also the matter of why the Dodgers let go of Bellinger to begin with. After looking like a perennial All-Star during his first three seasons in the big leagues, Bellinger's status as one of the top players in the game has take a tremendous hit.

Bellinger posted an OPS of .928 with 111 round trippers during his first three major league seasons. However, since 2020, Bellinger's OPS has dipped to .648 and his numbers are that of a replacement-level player.

Cody Bellinger is also a left-handed hitter. The Cincinnati Reds already have three left-handed bats (Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl, and Michael Siani) in the outfield. If the Redlegs are looking for an upgrade in the outfield, the team should be focused on free agents like Adam Duvall, AJ Pollock, or Michael Conforto.

The one area where Bellinger would certainly be an upgrade for the Reds is defensively. Having 14 career defensive runs saved as a centerfielder would certainly bolster the team's defense in 2023, but Bellinger's contract expectations will be much too steep. Not to mention the fact that Siani is seen as an elite defender in his own right.

It's a fun exercise to dream about the next time when the Cincinnati Reds will be good enough to attract the attention of top-level free agents, but for now, the organization looks to be focused on rebuilding the team from within.

Next. 3 Reds players who could replace Kyle Farmer at 3B. dark