The Houston Astros are bound to be active in MLB free agency this winter, and one area they could address or upgrade is center field.
Yes, Chas McCormick proved himself productive during the postseason en route to a World Series championship. However, his regular season slashline of .245/.332/.407 leaves something to be desired. The same can be said about Mauricio Dubón, who played 45 games in center for the Astros.
A potential solution could be the 2019 National League MVP Cody Bellinger.
Bellinger was not retained by the Los Angeles Dodgers after hitting 210/.265/.389 in 2022. It's a far cry from his production levels in 2019 when he won the MVP award. However, he did suffer a significant shoulder injury in 2020.
That injury has reportedly affected him all the way throughout the 2022 season, explaining his dismal production.
As such, his agent Scott Boras has told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal that his player is seeking a one-year deal to re-establish value.
"I've already been offered multi-years," Boras said. "Most likely, because of his age, we don't want a multi-year."
Those one-year deals have worked in the past, but it also allows a team, like the Astros, to take a flier on a player without having to commit to them long-term. This is particularly important in the case of Bellinger where it remains to be seen if this is a case of injury or total decline.
As such, a team like Houston would be wise to pursue Bellinger. If he returns to his 2019 form, or at least some version of it, then the Astros, who already have a formidable lineup, have just strengthened their chances of returning to the World Series in 2023.
If he is indeed a sub-.700 OPS type of player moving forward, then the Astros can cut their losses early and return to a platoon situation which worked adequately for them in 2022.
It's hard to see a downside in this scenario, aside from the potential financials.
Little risk, potentially a great reward.
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