Cody Bellinger is back where he was one year ago: a free agent on the MLB market.
This time, he’s going in with a lot more gravitas. Last offseason, Bellinger was looking for somewhere he could rejuvenate his career. After winning MVP in 2019 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he recorded three straight lackadaisical seasons.
But he found his bounce-back home on the North Side with the Chicago Cubs in 2023. They gifted him a one-year “prove it” deal worth $17.5 million. And, boy, did he prove it. He earned a Silver Slugger and top-ten MVP votes behind a .307 batting average, .881 OPS, 26 home runs and 97 RBIs.
Now, he’s caught the eyes of several suitors for the next chapter of his career, including two former destinations in the Cubs and Dodgers. Would he be interested in reuniting with either club, even the one that cut him loose during his darkest hour?
“Our platform is Cody’s let us know that he’s listening to everyone involved, and there are no exclusions,” Bellinger’s agent, Scott Boras, told the media at the MLB Winter Meetings.
Bellinger went through serious adversity while playing his final years in Los Angeles. He battled a shoulder injury that required offseason surgery in 2021. And he went through a slew of mechanic adjustments to try and revamp his swing and regain MVP form.
In 144 healthy games in 2022, he failed to produce up to standard. He hit .210 from the plate, despite knocking 19 balls out of the park and driving in 68 runs. He finished with an OPS+ of 81.
With the Cubs, he completely turned things around, showing he hasn’t lost his 2019 form. He provided the most power in the Cubs’ lineup and launched them into the playoff conversation. For that, he’s poised to earn a solid payday this offseason. The question is — who is motivated enough to ink him?
The Yankees, who were once considered among the heavy favorites to sign Bellinger, are on the brink of trading for Padres outfielder Juan Soto. Logically, a trade for Soto would push them out of the conversation for Bellinger, considering they would field an outfield of Soto, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.
That brings us back to the Cubs and Dodgers, along with the San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays as potential suitors. Remember: all of those teams are in on Shohei Ohtani. The general silence around the Winter Meetings logically suggests Ohtani’s move will dictate the rest of the market and the aforementioned’s collective interest in Bellinger.
If the Cubs come away Ohtani-less on the other side, it would make sense for them to be in on re-signing Bellinger back to the squad. And Boras reminded us just how rare Bellinger’s season was last season, as he makes a solid consolation prize without Ohtani.
“How many people have hard contact rates, that play center field, and do what they do with two strikes and low strike-out levels? And then you’re going to find out ‘Wow that’s a very small group of only about 2 or 3 people,'” Boras said.
Source: Yahoo Sports