Cody Bellinger, the dynamic outfielder, has made a remarkable comeback and is now considered one of the most valuable free agents in the market. At 28, Bellinger is poised for a potentially transformative contract following his impressive performance.
Last offseason, Bellinger signed a one-year contract worth $17.5 million with the Chicago Cubs. This deal was perceived as a significant gamble by the Cubs, considering Bellinger's previous struggles at the plate. Despite his past accolades - winning the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year and the 2019 MVP Award with the Los Angeles Dodgers - Bellinger was released after the 2022 season due to his underwhelming .193 batting average in 2021 and 2022.
However, in a turn of events, Bellinger regained his form in Chicago. His stats, a .307 batting average, a .406 on-base percentage, a .525 slugging percentage, along with 26 home runs and 97 RBIs, were a testament to his resurgence.
Boras's Firm Negotiation Tactics
Following this strong performance, Bellinger declined his option with the Cubs, opting for free agency instead. With his improved statistics, he now holds considerable leverage in negotiations.
An MLB executive, speaking to ESPN's Jesse Rogers, noted the negotiation tactics of Bellinger's agent, Scott Boras: "My experience with [Boras] is that he asks for a big number of dollars and years and doesn't budge for quite a while." Boras, who has represented Bellinger since his debut with the Dodgers, is renowned for his successful representation of other MLB stars like Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer.
The executive suggested that Boras' strategy is to play potential contenders against each other over the long term. With Bellinger's improved hitting stats, the Boras-Bellinger duo is in a strong position. The Toronto Blue Jays have been frequently mentioned in discussions about Bellinger.
Following their unsuccessful attempt to sign Ohtani, Bellinger's combination of offensive power and defensive skills makes him an attractive option for the team. Bellinger's turnaround is nothing short of remarkable. Had he continued his previous form into 2023, finding a team for the 2024 season would have been challenging.
However, the Arizona native has proven his mettle, demonstrating that he can compete with the best in baseball. This resurgence is likely to pay off handsomely before the season's opening day, a testament to Bellinger's talent and resilience in the face of adversity.