Spring training over the last two seasons has not been kind to the Chicago White Sox. Eloy Jimenez missed a large part of 2021 after suffering a pectoral injury during a spring game and now Andrew Vaughn is dealing with a hip pointer injury that he suffered on Sunday.
Following the “oh no not again” moment White Sox fans had to be feeling after Vaughn left the game, questions arose as to why the team seemed to think right field will be best served by a platoon system of Vaughn, Gavin Sheets, and Adam Engel.
The White Sox took passes on the likes of Kris Bryant, Nick Castellanos, Starling Marte, and Jorge Soler. All of them were players people had eyes on once last season ended. Michael Conforto is still unsigned but does not seem to be on the radar for the White Sox right now.
So, the question becomes, do the White Sox go look for a proven outfielder and if so, who? In thinking outside the box, how about Cody Bellinger?
The Chicago White Sox could be the team that revives Cody Bellinger’s career.
The current Los Angeles Dodger is a former Rookie of the Year (2017) as well as an NL Most Valuable Player, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award winner (all in 2019) who is battling some tough times on the west coast and might be in need of a change.
Speaking of those tough times, since winning the MVP Bellinger has seen his career become sidetracked due to numerous injuries. He dislocated his shoulder following his Game 7 home run in the 2020 World Series. He then proceeded to break his leg, a rib, and experience hamstring issues all during the ’21 season.
When he wasn’t struggling health-wise, he was having troubles at the plate. After hitting .305 in 2019, Bellinger followed that up with batting averages of .239 and .165. He had just 10 homers and 36 RBI in 315 at-bats last year.
His spring training has been abysmal, to say the least. Bellinger has struck out 14 times in 19 at-bats with just three hits. Of his strikeouts, Bellinger jokingly told a reporter:
"“I’m just getting my punchies out of the way in…March? Are we in March? So they don’t happen in the season. It’s pretty smart if you think about it that way.”"
That’s the type of stuff that would scare teams off. However, what the White Sox could use is someone who has not just playoff experience but playoff success that can help this team now.
Bellinger has played in three World Series (winning one) over his five years, was the MVP of the 2018 NL Championship Series against the Milwaukee Brewers, and has nine homers and 33 RBI over 66 total playoff games.
His .213/.288/.383 overall postseason slash line isn’t terrific but he made adjustments to his hitting approach that netted him a .353 batting average in 39 playoff at-bats last year.
His experience with the Dodgers could be helpful in a White Sox clubhouse for a team that hasn’t made it out of the first round of the playoffs the last two years. The change of scenery, new coaching, along with former Dodger teammate Joe Kelly being on the team might be what could help Bellinger revive his career.
He is set to make $17 million this year and would be a free agent after 2024 which might be a steep price to pay unless the White Sox could make a trade that would have the Dodgers pick up part of that salary.
Would Bellinger be the best option for right field? Who knows. Based on the revolving door of players the White Sox seem to plan on using, it might be an option worth exploring.