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Would Cody Bellinger, former Dodgers star, be right fit for Giants?

Would Cody Bellinger, former Dodgers star, be right fit for Giants?

Would former Dodgers star Bellinger be right fit for Giants? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO — During the 2021 season, as he watched Cody Bellinger take early batting practice at Oracle Park, a member of the Giants staff talked of the adjustments he would try and make if he could work with Bellinger, who at the time was struggling to push past offseason shoulder surgery. Bellinger never found his old form that year and in 2022 he wasn’t much better, leading to a surprising result on Friday for a young outfielder who was the NL MVP just three years ago.

The Dodgers non-tendered Bellinger, who was due about $18 million in his third year of arbitration. While president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman later told reporters he would like to bring Bellinger back at a lower number, the outfielder, for the first time in his career, is now free to negotiate with 29 other teams.

At the moment, Bellinger is a deeply flawed hitter. He also checks off a lot of boxes for Farhan Zaidi and the Giants front office.

This group has always been drawn to past pedigree, and some of Zaidi’s most notable success stories have been with high draft picks and former top prospects. That was part of the equation in signing Kevin Gausman, and the Giants placed a big bet last season that there was more in the tank for Carlos Rodón, once the third overall pick in the draft. From hits like Darin Ruf to misses like Alex Blandino, the Giants have often bet on players who were first-rounders or tore through the minors much earlier in their careers.

Zaidi also has had success with former Dodgers, most notably Joc Pederson and Donovan Solano, an infielder he knew from their Triple-A system. He was the general manager in Los Angeles when Bellinger won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2017, hitting 39 homers as a 21-year-old.

Zaidi is not the only Giant with connections to Bellinger. Gabe Kapler was the Dodgers’ farm director as Bellinger was coming through the minors, and Pederson and Alex Wood are former teammates.

The fit here is not because of connections, though.

At every opportunity, the Giants have said publicly and privately that one of their main goals this offseason is to get better defensively and more athletic up the middle. Bellinger ranked in the 92nd percentile in Outs Above Average last season and what the Giants saw in their matchups with the Dodgers matched the metrics. He is above-average defensively in center field and he has also…

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