Cody Bellinger Extension

You know him, you love him, he’s the reigning National League Most Valuable Player. A season that saw him carry a .400 batting average almost into the second half, a gold glove, a silver slugger, 9.1 WAR, 47 home runs, and 115 RBI. But the best number for the Dodger’s front office was his $605,000 salary for it. In fact, a lot of the Dodger’s studs were undervalued last year. So much so that Bleacher Report says the Dodger’s were the 6th most underpaid team for value produced. They produced $222 million more than if they paid the average $ cost per 1 WAR.

So this means the Dodger’s are doing a fantastic job of developing cheap farm talent, but a new core of Dodgers is being built. It’s time to start paying soon or we’ll have to bid for our own guys on the FA market and risk losing them. And at the top of the list with new Dodger Mookie Betts, is Cody Bellinger. Here’s our process of making a deal to keep him in blue for another decade.

Highlights

  • Cody’s Stats So Far
  • Cody’s Future Value
  • Cody Compared To The Market Price
  • The Numbers
  • The Offer for a 10 year contract

Cody’s Stats and Numbers Right Now

Cody was down to make $11.5 million this year after this first year of arbitration. And he’s arbitration eligible until his FA year of 2024. So his price will most likely go up every year. Betts set the record arbitration contract at $27M and if all goes well Bellinger will be poised to break this in 2023 if we do nothing.

Cody’s 2019 was magical in a word. He was MVP, a Gold Glover, and a Silver Slugger. His expected statistics said he should’ve done even better. Theres not much to say about the season that hasn’t been said already. The only chink in the armor was a much more down to earth second half. But other than that, he set a very high bar.

However, if we face the facts, last year was the last year we’ll ever get of a truly undervalued Bellinger. We hit the peak. With this season postponed for now, it’s a good time to consider locking him down for the long term for a discount. As good as he was last year, we have to assume that he will not be that good forever and closer to his career averages so far.

Cody’s Hopeful Future

Now this is where it gets scary. Because with such high reward, comes a high cost. Which more importantly means, higher risk. Think Bryce Harper, or Albert Puljos’s last contract. Because right now, he is projected by ZIPs to be a perennial 40 HR, 100R, 100 RBI threat.

He compiled 7.8 WAR last year according to ZIPs. Other projections have him producing as much as 6.5 WAR in 2020.

He’s still improving in exit velocity and his overall consistency to make good contact. His defense is improving still. And his speed is staying exactly the same. He only turns 25 this year.

The Market

Who better to compare Bellinger to than fellow MVP finalist Yelich. Except Yelich is 28 years old and suffered a knee injury last year. Not too mention that he relies a lot on his plus speed to make up for poor instincts.

2019 Yelich’s Statcast

But he also signed a 9-year $215M extension last year. A bargain for the Brewers all the same.

Especially when you consider that the top position player in last year’s market, Anthony Rendon, signed for 7 years at $35MM a year. Not too mention he was 29 when he signed the contract and contracts seem to set new highs every year.

And based off the 40 HR 110 RBI threat we could compare him to the Nolan Arenado. He just signed an extension with the Rockies last year for 8 years $260MM, or roughly $34.4MM a year.

Breaking It Down

Again Bellinger turns 25 this year and is a true 5-tool threat. He has 10-15 more years in the majors if all goes well.

1 WAR for an elite position player costs about $7-8MM. Bellinger is projected to put up roughly 6 WAR consistently for the next 3 years as we saw. A lot of his additional value comes from his defensive prowess which is why it’s good he has natural instincts out there.

Most players don’t physically decline until about 30. So we’ll say he has the same value for the next 5-6 years combining for roughly 36 expected WAR.

He’ll most likely decline somewhat steadily likely most players after that. But as we saw in his sophomore slump, even a decreased Belli produces about 3 and a half WAR. We’ll say the average for the net 6 years will roughly be about 3.5 WAR expecting decline but still amounting to 21 more combined WAR.

All together we roughly estimate that Bellinger could be worth 57 WAR over the next 12 years. Or roughly just under 5 WAR per season. At current prices, Bellinger is worth $35-$40MM a year on the market.

Of course the future is incredibly hard to predict, so the balance of risk would bring this price down for such a long term contract.

Of course the future is incredibly hard to predict, so the balance of risk would bring this price down for such a long term contract.

The Offer

All in all we want to offer Belli a 12 year deal to make him a Dodger for life and at a discount to compensate for his peace of mind. A classic high-risk high-reward contract more like Yelich’s.

He could make much more on the market. Or he could hurt his shoulder, slump again, and lose $10-$20MM off his yearly value. Of course we don’t want this to happen, but a player should consider a worst case scenario before assuming it will be the best case scenario where he signs for $500MM somewhere.

So we say offer Bellinger a 12 year/$300MM contract with either a no-trade clause or an opt-out after 4 or 5 years. After all , you only need so much money in this life, and a true home is priceless.

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