by Alex Poletti
Photo By Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire
Following an MVP season, Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Cody Bellinger was expected to break the record for largest MLB contract for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility. He did exactly that, not only reaching a deal for $11.5 million, but also getting land rights and complete sovereignty of Orange and Ventura County, two areas near Los Angeles.
“Bellinger is a franchise player,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says. “We knew that we’d be willing to break the bank to bring him back without going through arbitration. We also knew we’d be willing to break California penal codes by transferring ownership of two counties to Cody without informing any large governing bodies.”
The 2019 NL MVP’s contract broke Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant’s first-year record of $10.85 million. Both players had won MVP awards prior to their arbitration settlement, but Bellinger had the leg up by winning it in the season directly before.
“When money didn’t solve it, we knew we had some good assets to give,” Friedman continues. “Obviously, we couldn’t give him LA county. There’s the city, Santa Monica, all sorts of things make that deal impractical. But no one really gives a shit about Ventura County, so we pretty much threw that in for free.”
Bellinger had a season for the ages in 2019, hitting 47 home runs and driving in 115 runs. He had an OPS over 1.000, and led the majors in WAR. This gave him the edge over 2018 winner Christian Yelich in a tight MVP race. At just 24, the outfield-first base hybrid has shown he’s worth the money.
“Giving over Orange County proved to be a little harder than we thought it would be,” Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten explains. “The Angels play in Anaheim, which is in Orange County, so that proved to be a bit of a logistical problem. If the Angels had any fans, that might have actually been a challenge.”
Now that Bellinger and the Dodgers have agreed to a deal, the new question of what Bellinger will do with his new properties arises. To answer that, The Second String reached out to the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year.
“I’m not sure yet, but it’s pretty cool that I have all that land now,” the Arizona native says. “It’s just good to have some extra space to cry alone when we lose some more World Series in the next few years.”