The Chicago Cubs have been favorites to sign top free agent Cody Bellinger for at least the past month and it’s gotten to the point where most and probably closer to everyone around the league expects them to work out a deal. Nothing signals that belief more than the latest predictions from USA Today, as the Cubs were unanimously picked to sign Bellinger.
The five-person panel gave their predictions for the top remaining free agents, including Blake Snell, Matt Chapman, Jordan Montgomery, Jorge Soler and J.D. Martinez. While one of the five people also predicted the Cubs are going to sign third baseman Matt Chapman, all were in agreement that Bellinger to the Cubs will eventually happen.
Via USA Today.
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Bob Nightengale: Chicago Cubs – It’s a perfect marriage after dating all of last season, and everyone knows it’s going to happen. The only question is who proposes first.
Gabe Lacques: Chicago Cubs – Pete Crow-Armstrong’s fine defense is no reason to pass on a Bellinger reunion, not when he’s still out there, the Cubs lack thump at Bellinger’s positions and at 28, the 2019 MVP still has plenty of prime years remaining.
Steve Gardner: Chicago Cubs – Not finding any takers for his big-money demands, he returns to the Friendly Confines and fills the Cubs’ greatest need..
Scott Boeck:Chicago Cubs – Bellinger returns to Chicago on a short term deal despite interest in moving back to Los Angeles to play for the Angels.
Jesse Yomtov:Chicago Cubs – You have to wonder if Bellinger’s stellar 2023 was an aberration or a return to form for the former MVP. Either way, it makes sense for the Cubs to run it back.
Again, no real surprise as the expectation among not only MLB analysts, but also several league executives believe that there is no better landing spot for Bellinger. However, most of these recent discussions all have one thing in common and that’s the Cubs are waiting for the price to come down.
In terms of other potential suitors, the San Francisco Giants have been a team to keep an eye on. Yet, on Friday, The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly wrote about San Francisco’s plan to finish out free agency and it doesn’t appear as though Bellinger is at the top of their list anymore.
It seems like the Giants may be leaning toward a right-handed hitter to add to their lineup, with Chapman as the main target and Martinez as the other possibility.
Via The Athletic.
The Giants continue to expect to augment their roster before opening day and it’s been an industry-wide assumption for most of the winter that third baseman Matt Chapman, who played for Giants manager Bob Melvin in Oakland, will end up in San Francisco. But given the lengthy standoff with agent Scott Boras, it’s fair to assume there remains a sizable gap between how Boras and the Giants calculate Chapman’s market value. (The same could be said for how clubs view outfielder Cody Bellinger and left-hander Blake Snell.)
Going back to the USA Today predictions, four of the five writers picked the Giants to sign Chapman.
Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal was on the Foul Territory Podcast Friday and guess who he thinks Bellinger will be signing with.
The hold up is obviously the asking price from Bellinger, who according to Nightengale, is still seeking a contract worth more than $200 million. No team has obviously taken the bait and caved in, so at this point the Cubs seem like the default answer, especially because at the beginning of free agency we heard so much about Bellinger really enjoying his time with the Cubs in 2023 and his interest in returning.
If there is one team to be worried about it would have to be the Los Angeles Angels. While they haven’t been a winning organization for a long time, owner Arte Moreno has shown that he’ll spend big on free agents and overpay if he needs to. But as of now, no team has been wiling to even come close to offering what Bellinger wants.