The Los Angeles Dodgers decided to non-tender Cody Bellinger on Friday, ultimately making him a free agent. The Bellinger move drew no shortage of reactions from around the MLB world. With Bellinger in free agency, the Dodgers are officially in the market for a new centerfielder.
Los Angeles has different courses of action they can take. The Dodgers have in-house options who could take over centerfield duties. However, they may also look to utilize the free agent/trade market. If they end up signing Aaron Judge, either Judge or Mookie Betts could take over centerfield duties. But there are 3 cheaper options that would make sense as well. Without further ado, here are 3 potential Dodgers replacements for Cody Bellinger.
A similar Cody Bellinger alternative
Kevin Kiermaier has been listed as a possible replacement for Cody Bellinger. The Dodgers have reportedly expressed interest in the Tampa Bay Rays centerfielder.
However, the fit seems a bit odd.
Cody Bellinger and Kevin Kiermaier profile as a similar players at this point in their careers. Both are terrific outfielders that lack much in the way of offensive productivity. If the Dodgers are wanting to sign Kiermaier, they should have gone ahead and kept Bellinger.
With that being said, Kiermaier is a good player who will come at a fairly cheap price. He dealt with an injury in 2022, so the Dodgers could get him at an even steeper discount.
Re-Sign Dodgers breakout star Trayce Thompson
Trayce Thompson enjoyed a breakout campaign for the Dodgers last year. He even challenged Cody Bellinger for playing time in centerfield towards the end of the season.
Klay Thompson recently admitted that he wants to see Trayce re-sign in LA. Perhaps the Golden State Warriors star, and Trayce's brother, will help push the two sides towards a reunion.
In the end, the Dodgers could sign Thompson as a 4th outfielder or platoon type of player. But there is a chance he impressed LA enough to earn a starting gig. In 74 games for the Dodgers, Thompson slashed .268/.364/.537 with a .901 OPS and 13 home runs. He also offers strong defense in the outfield.
Trayce Thompson will be someone to keep tabs on moving forward.
Andrew Benintendi has been overlooked so far in free agency. But he's a pure contact hitter who provides Gold Glove-caliber defense in the outfield. The Dodgers would need to decide whether he fits better as a corner outfielder or centerfielder, but Benintendi is on the table for the Dodgers.
Benintendi hit over .300 in Kansas City last year before slowing down in New York with the Yankees. Regardless, his bat would profile well for a powerful Dodgers lineup. LA could use a contact-first hitter such as Andrew Benintendi. Additionally, his on-base ability would serve LA well.
Andrew Benintendi is the most exciting option out of these 3 players. But the Dodgers may ultimately prefer a natural centerfielder.
Dodgers fans are hoping the team signs Aaron Judge and places either Judge or Mookie Betts in centerfield. And previous reports indicate that LA will make a run at Judge in free agency.
But Judge is far from a guarantee, and the Dodgers need a Cody Bellinger replacement. Kevin Kiermaier, Trayce Thompson, and Andrew Benintendi would all be quality options to take over the position. It will be interesting to see what direction the Dodgers decide to take.