Sources: Cody Bellinger reaches record $11.5M deal with Dodgers

ByAlden Gonzalez ESPN logo
Saturday, January 11, 2020

LOS ANGELES -- Cody Bellinger, the reigning National League MVP, secured an $11.5 million contract for the 2020 season, according to sources, setting a record for a first-year arbitration-eligible player.

The 24-year-old's 2020 contract beat the $10.85 million deal that Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant secured two offseasons ago. Bellinger's new salary is more than 19 times larger than the $605,000 he made in 2019, when he batted .305/.406/.629 with 47 home runs and 15 stolen bases in his third season in the major leagues. The Los Angeles Dodgers' star outfielder joined Johnny Bench, Fred Lynn and Dustin Pedroia as the only players to collect MVP, Gold Glove and Rookie of the Year awards before turning 25.

Several of Bellinger's teammates, however, still seek clarity.

The Dodgers avoided arbitration with only five of their nine eligible players before the formal exchange of numbers Friday night, setting up the strong likelihood that they will take part in at least one arbitration hearing for the first time since 2007.

Among the unsigned players are two of their most dangerous left-handed hitters, Max Muncy and Joc Pederson. Muncy, a 29-year-old infielder who has collected a .927 OPS and 70 home runs over the past two seasons, filed for $4.675 million and the Dodgers countered at $4 million. Pederson, a 27-year-old outfielder who has averaged 25 home runs and an .818 OPS since 2015, filed for $9.5 million and the Dodgers countered at $7.75 million.

Arbitration hearings will take place in Phoenix at some point between Feb. 3 and 21. Teams and players are allowed to agree on a new contract right up until the scheduled date of a hearing, but the Dodgers are among the many teams who impose a strict "file-and-go" mandate -- if a contract is not agreed upon before the exchange of numbers, the sides will settle their differences in front of an arbitration panel. An exception is made for multiyear contracts, but the Dodgers have not yet decided whether to pursue any with their unsigned players, a source said.

Also without a 2020 contract are late-inning reliever Pedro Baez and utility man Chris Taylor. Baez filed at $4 million and the Dodgers countered with $3.5 million; Taylor filed at $5.8 million and the Dodgers countered at $5.25 million.

Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager recovered from elbow and hip surgeries to play a full season in 2019 and will make $7.6 million in 2020, nearly double his salary as a first-year arbitration-eligible player last season. Utility man Enrique Hernandez ($5.9 million) and starting pitchers Ross Stripling ($2.1 million) and Julio Urias ($1 million) also settled with the Dodgers.

Players traditionally make around the minimum in their first three years of major league service, then qualify for arbitration in Years 4 to 6 -- increasing their earnings each season -- before becoming eligible for free agency.

Related Video