The New York Yankees are gearing up for an eventful off-season, aiming to rejuvenate the squad for a comeback. After the 2023 season’s letdown, they’re eyeing a more balanced lineup and an additional starting pitcher. The departures of Luis Severino, Frankie Montas, and Domingo German have left voids that urgently need addressing. Luckily, the Yankees possess the arsenal to make significant moves.
One pressing concern is the center field position, especially with Jasson Dominguez out after his Tommy John surgery. The Yankees are spoilt for choice, with options ranging from short-term fixes like Kevin Kiermaier to blockbuster moves, with Cody Bellinger being the potential marquee signing.
Bellinger’s Standout Season
Bellinger, after his stellar season with the Chicago Cubs, is undeniably a prime target. The 28-year-old lefty showcased formidable stats, boasting a .307 average, a .356 OBP, and a .525 slugging rate. He notched 26 homers, 97 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases. His 15.6% strikeout rate and 134 wRC+ further underline his value. Since his 2019 MVP season, this has arguably been Bellinger’s finest run.
Entering the free agent market, Bellinger’s stock is at its highest in four years. SNY analyst John Harper asserts that the Yankees should be aggressive in their pursuit. According to SNY:
“This seems like too perfect of a match for it not to happen. Of course, I thought the same thing when Corey Seager was a free agent two years ago and that didn’t happen, but the Yankees are in a more desperate situation now. And other than Ohtani, who will be too expensive for Hal Steinbrenner’s liking, Bellinger is the one free agent who can go a long way toward fixing their offense.
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The Yankees Would Get More Than Just Offense
Bellinger isn’t just about runs and homers. He’s also a defensive stalwart. In the outfield, he clocked 686 innings with an impressive .990 fielding percentage and four outs above average. Additionally, he’s versatile, with 421.2 innings at first base this season, yielding a .993 fielding percentage and saving five runs defensively.
Should the Yankees pull the trigger, Bellinger could initially take center field, making way for Dominguez in left. There’s potential for Bellinger to shift to first base once Anthony Rizzo’s contract runs its course post the 2024 season. One undeniable asset Bellinger brings is his productivity in crunch moments, particularly with runners in scoring position.
Throughout this year, Bellinger batted .323 with runners on base, logging 42 hits, 71 RBIs, and six homers from 130 at-bats. While there’s a lot to appreciate about Bellinger, the Yankees must also account for potential risks. He’s delivered one standout season in the past three years, so a hefty investment might be a gamble.
Yet, considering he’s in his prime and would meld seamlessly into the Yankees’ fabric, the pros seem to outweigh the cons.