After letting Marcus Thames go to the Chicago White Sox, the Los Angeles Angels needed a hitting coach to add to Ron Washington's staff. They landed on Johnny Washington, the Cubs assistant hitting coach for each of the last two years.
Prior to his stint with the Cubs, the 39-year-old Washington spent a year as a hitting coach in the KBO. Before that, he spent time as a coach in the minors with the Dodgers and Padres. He has yet to act as the lead hitting coach for a MLB team, but the Cubs did rank sixth in the majors in runs scored this past season. A big reason for that was the resurgence of Cody Bellinger whom Washington has a relationship.
Washington's work with the Dodgers and Cubs is particularly notable as he has had a relationship with Bellinger since he began his career in the minors with the Dodgers. “J-Wash, we’ve been in close contact since he was with the Dodgers,” Bellinger said. “He’s just an intelligent guy and loves baseball. He’s known me since I was 17, 18 years old.” With Bellinger now a free agent, could he bring Bellinger along with him?
LA Angels hitting coach hire could influence Cody Bellinger to sign with the Angels this offseason
No, the Angels did not hire Washington just to influence Bellinger to come aboard. In fact, the team was interested in him as a potential manager before settling on Joe Maddon. Washington and Bellinger having a relationship is just an added bonus.
Bellinger was a hitter who was completely lost at the dish before reuniting with Washington prior to the 2023 season. He had three straight horrific years with the Dodgers following his MVP season before being non-tendered. Once Bellinger got to Chicago, he immediately turned back into the MVP-caliber player he had been.
I'm not going to say Washington is the reason why Bellinger suddenly flipped a switch, but it sure is a coincidence. The Angels should be prioritizing pitching this offseason, but especially if they lose Ohtani they could use a boost on offense too. Plugging Bellinger into the outfield with Washington as his hitting coach could wind up being a great thing. It hasn't been rumored, but it sure feels like something to take note of.
The Washington hire is one to be excited about, and could be even more exciting if he brings Bellinger to Anaheim with him.