As the Chicago Cubs weigh their options in the offseason, the future of Cody Bellinger with the team remains uncertain. According to renowned MLB journalist Bob Nightengale, the Cubs are unlikely to meet the high price tag expected for Bellinger, following his impressive comeback season.
Bellinger, who clinched the National League MVP in 2019, faced a decline over three years with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In a decisive move, he joined the Cubs on a one-year "prove it" contract. The 28-year-old outfielder and first baseman did just that, rejuvenating his career with a stellar .307 batting average, 26 home runs, and 97 RBIs in 2023.
His performance was a critical factor in Chicago's unexpected push for a postseason spot. This resurgence positions Bellinger as a prime target in the free-agent market. His versatility and recent track record could spark a bidding war among several teams.
Speaking on Audacy’s Barreled Up podcast, Nightengale noted that while Bellinger's tenure with the Cubs was fruitful, a return seems unlikely, particularly given the anticipated high financial commitment. Considering their financial leverage and strategic needs, he speculated that teams like the New York Yankees or the San Francisco Giants might be more probable destinations for Bellinger.
Bellinger's Financial Dilemma
The financial aspect is a significant consideration for the Cubs. Bellinger's market value, according to MLB Trade Rumors, is estimated at a staggering 12-year, $264 million contract. This figure positions him as the second most coveted free agent currently.
The Cubs, meanwhile, have their sights set on another high-profile player - Shohei Ohtani. Pursuing Ohtani, a two-way sensation, could strategically and financially limit Chicago's ability to re-sign Bellinger. Nightengale's insights reflect the Cubs' broader strategy of rebuilding and diversifying their roster.
While Bellinger's contributions were invaluable, the team might prioritize strengthening their pitching lineup and adding versatile offensive players over a hefty investment in a single player. This approach aligns with the Cubs' recent endeavors to balance star power with a more holistic team composition, aiming for sustainable success in the competitive MLB landscape.
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