The first help wanted ad the Yankees would post this offseason — if such things were done — would look like this: Need a lefty-batting, in-his-prime, strong defensive center fielder (further versatility also valued) who hits for average, power, runs the bases well, is a high-end athlete, with championship pedigree who limits strikeouts. High salary negotiable.
The 2023 version of Cody Bellinger fits the criteria like hand to Gold Glove. He did not win that award last season for the Cubs as he did in 2019 for the Dodgers. But he remained a strong defender in center (and perhaps even better at first base) while winning a Silver Slugger.
The key item, though, in that previous paragraph was “2023.” For in 2021-22, Bellinger was among the majors’ worst regularly used players to the point that Saturday will be the one-year anniversary of the Dodgers non-tendering a player who won the NL MVP in 2019 and was a core piece in 2020 of their first World Series winner since 1988.
Bellinger signed a one-year, $17.5 million pillow contract with the Cubs and hit 26 homers, stole 20 bases, had an .881 OPS and produced a career-best 15.7 strikeout…
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