Mariners Hot Stove Hype: All-Star Trea Turner, former MVP Cody Bellinger

Dec 2, 2022, 12:43 PM

Mariners Trea Turner Cody Bellinger...

Los Angeles Dodgers' Cody Bellinger (35) is congratulated by Trea Turner (6) after scoring against the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/John Hefti)

(AP Photo/John Hefti)

As we wait to see what the Mariners’ next move of the offseason is, Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Wyman and Bob are getting insight from around the league about players who could help the M’s in 2023 and potentially beyond.

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One team that has two such players that Mariners fans have discussed at length is the L.A. Dodgers. The two players? All-Star shortstop Trea Turner and 2019 National League MVP outfielder Cody Bellinger.

Both are free agents able to sign with any team across Major League Baseball, but the two hit the open market in very different circumstances.

During the Wednesday installment of Mariners Hot Stove Hype, Wyman and Bob were able to talk to Dodgers play-by-play man Tim Neverett and get his insight into both Turner and Bellinger. Here’s a bit of what Neverett had to say.

Trea Turner

Turner, 29, spent the last year-plus in L.A. after a 2021 midseason trade with the Washington Nationals, where Turner won a World Series ring in 2019.

Turner is a two-time All-Star with three top-11 MVP finishes to his credit since debuting in 2015, and he’s seen as one of the two to five best players in free agency after another standout season in 2022, where he won the Silver Slugger award.

It’s easy to see why the Mariners – or any team – would like Turner in their lineup, Neverett said.

“Trea Turner is a player that comes to play every day. I mean, he’s one of the best hitters in baseball, he runs the bases as well as anybody in baseball,” he said. “Defensively, he’s good … When you watch him play time and time again, day in and day out, he’s one of the best players in the game.”

Neverett selfishly hopes the Dodgers can bring Turner back long-term, but he thinks the star infielder suits up for a different team next season.

“If the Mariners can pony up the dollars, they’re gonna get a great shortstop,” he said. “That’s the thing. I mean, you’re gonna get one of the best in the league, a guy who’s going to compete for the batting crown. He’s going to compete for the hits crown … He’s a wonderful player. Doesn’t give at-bats away.”

Ponying up those dollars is obviously a key for the Mariners or any team wanting to sign Turner. Neverett, like many media members, noted that while Turner enjoyed his time with the Dodgers, he considers himself an East Coast guy. He’s from Florida and played college baseball at North Carolina State and played most of his career in Washington D.C. with the Nationals, whose Spring Training complex is in Florida. And reportedly, the Philadelphia Phillies are the favorites to land Turner.

So how much money are we talking for Turner?

“The question is can the Mariners afford to backup a couple of Brinks trucks for him? Because he’s gonna make an enormous sum of money this offseason. Somebody’s going to pay him. Somebody with a lot of money is going to pay him,” Neverett said, later adding, “I do think he’s one of the top free agents. As far as the number is concerned, I’m not sure what number has been thrown around, but I’m sure it’s going to be (hundreds of millions of dollars). We’re probably looking at somebody who wants more than 10 years (and) more than $300 million, one of those really crazy contracts. He’s got an agent who asked for it, so we’ll see what happens.”

Cody Bellinger

While Turner hits free agency as one of baseball’s best and brightest players, Bellinger hits the open market with major question marks surrounding his career.

Bellinger is just 27 years old and given he was the Rookie of the Year in 2017 and MVP in 2019, you would have been laughed out of the room if you’d have said prior to the 2020 season that he’d be non-tendered by the Dodgers this offseason.

But that’s exactly what happened after posting a .203/.272/.376 slash line (.648 OPS) in 296 games since winning his MVP Award.

Neverett said there’s a chance Bellinger returns to the Dodgers, but “he’s got some interest all around the league.”

Defensively, Neverett said, Bellinger is teriffic and he can play well above-average in center field. The issue has been at the plate, where the 2019 MVP has struggled to make proper adjustments at the plate, Neverett said, sticking to his same swing and approach regardless of count and even when things clearly aren’t working.

“He’s got huge swing and miss. He’s got kind of an upper-cut (swing with) a little bit of a loop in the swing and we see it all the time. And that’s been his problem is perhaps the refusal to really make big changes. We have constantly heard, ‘Yeah, he’s putting the work in.’ But if you take 500 swings the same way every day, I mean, is it helping?” he said.

There’s no denying Bellinger’s power when things do go right at the plate, but consistency in 2021 and 2022 has been a huge issue, which resulted in Bellinger hitting near or at the bottom of the Dodgers’ lineup.

“I think that was the big thing for the Dodgers was that they said, ‘This is just an open hole in our lineup offensively.’ Again, defensively he’s better than most out there in baseball, but offensively he became a liability,” Neverett said. “And I think that’s probably the main reason the Dodgers non-tendered them.”

The big question is whether another team thinks they can fix Bellinger’s swing after the Dodgers were unable to, Neverett said. And he does think that Bellinger leaves Los Angeles for another team.

“For him, he’s looking for bigger dollars probably than the Dodgers want to offer him to come back. And the Dodgers, they haven’t closed the door on him … But at this point, I just think that he’s going to end up somewhere else,” he said. “That’d be my guess. And there’ll be a bidding war for him, which is what his agent wants, which is what he wants. And he’ll probably be happier with a bigger contract somewhere else.”

Whether that’s the Mariners or not remains to be seen.

Listen to the full conversation with Neverett at this link or in the player below.

More from Mariners Hot Stove Hype

Rangers broadcaster Jared Sandler on former Texas OF Joey Gallo
• The Athletic’s Tim Britton on former Mets OF Michael Conforto
• The Ringer’s John Jastremski on Yankees trade chip Torres, FA OF Benintendi
• Padres broadcaster Jesse Agler on free agents Jurickson Profar, Wil Myers

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