The Cubs and Dodgers didn’t make a trade this offseason, but a series of transactions effectively added up to one. Here’s what I mean.

August of 2022: Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer announces they will release Jason Heyward at the end of the season.

November of 2022: Heyward officially released.

November of 2022: Cody Bellinger is non-tendered by the Dodgers.

December of 2022: Cubs sign Bellinger to one-year deal.

December of 2022: Dodgers sign Heyward to a minor league deal.

Both clubs had a long-tenured outfielder that was posting disappointing results. In both cases, they could have kept the player for one more year. Heyward still had one season left on his contract while Bellinger still had one arbitration season remaining. But in both cases, the club decided to cut bait, then swooped in to collect the other team’s castoff.

Now each club is going to be trying to coax a bounceback season from their respective new outfielder. In a vacuum, the Cubs are more likely to succeed. Bellinger has struggled over the past two years, producing a dismal .165/.240/.302 batting line in 2021 and then a subpar .210/.265/.389 slash last year. However, he was above average in 2020 and was the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 2019. He launched 47 home runs in that MVP season while hitting .305/.406/.629 for a wRC+ of 161. He also stole 15 bases and was graded well for his defensive work, being deemed to be worth 7.7 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs.

Heyward, on the other hand, has never really touched that kind of ceiling, and certainly not recently. He had a strong showing at the plate in 2020 but hasn’t been an above average hitter in a full season since 2015. He hit .293/.359/.439 for the Cardinals that year, leading to a 121 wRC+. He also stole 23 bases and was strong in the field, leading to a 5.6 fWAR tally. However, he’s been well below that type of production since then, including being below replacement level last year.