Free Agent Notes: Bellinger, Turner, Longoria

Despite being non-tendered by the Dodgers on Friday, Cody Bellinger has had no shortage of potential suitors, reports Jim Bowden of CBS Sports HQ. Bowden adds that Bellinger had calls from at least five teams “within an hour of him being non-tendered” and that “several more have called since.

Since slashing an impressive .305/.406/.629 with 47 homers in 2019, Bellinger has had a steep decline. Over the last two seasons, the former MVP has struggled to a .198/.256/.355 line with a high 27.1% strikeout rate and below-average 7.7% walk rate. As noted by MLBTR’s Anthony Franco, Bellinger suffered a right shoulder injury celebrating during the 2020 NLCS, followed by unrelated leg and rib issues that seemingly zapped his offensive production.

Nevertheless, as Bellinger’s offensive production declined, he has taken on more of a defensive role. Reaching the majors as a first baseman, Bellinger has since transitioned to a full-time role in center field and has been rated favorably by both Ultimate Zone Rating and Statcast. Without substantial offensive production over the past couple of years, Bellinger will likely earn less than the $18.1MM projected via arbitration by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, but will almost surely remain on a Major League roster.

Elsewhere in the League:

  • In addition to the Mariners’ interest in Gleyber Torres and Kolten Wong, the club has also checked in on Trea Turner and “all the other free agent middle infielders,” per Bowden. Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto has previously stated that the organization would prefer to land a shortstop that would like to play second base, and that J.P. Crawford is the Mariners’ shortstop. While Torres and Wong are both primary second basemen, Turner has limited experience at the position, having played only 436 2/3 innings at second since 2017. Furthermore, all of those innings were in 2021 after a mid-season trade to the Dodgers, who already had Corey Seager. Perhaps more importantly, shortstops are traditionally paid more than second basemen. MLBTR predicts Turner to receive an eight-year, $268MM contract, which would smash the record for the highest AAV contract for a second baseman.
  • 15-year veteran Evan Longoria has adjusted his free agent wishes, with Jon Heyman of the New York Post reporting that Longoria, “hopes to play one or two more years and is open to any competitive team.” Bob Nightengale of USA Today had previously reported that Longoria was only considering the Giants, Rays, and Diamondbacks as potential free agent landing spots. Longoria would be a nice addition to any contending team, with the 37-year-old hitting a solid .252/.333/.466 with 27 homers since the start of the 2021 season. However, injuries have limited Longoria to 589 PA and 170 games over the past two seasons.

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