The free agent market has been quiet so far, but it will pick up in the coming weeks and as the Winter Meetings approach we’re seeing a common theme when it comes to the Cubs and Cody Bellinger rumors. MLB insiders don’t see Bellinger signing with the Cubs this offseason.
The latest comes from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, who was recently on the Barreled Up podcast on the Audacy network. The MLB insider doesn’t think the Cubs will get involved in active bidding war for Bellinger, who just declined the team’s qualifying offer for 2024, after making $17.5 million with the Cubs this past season.
“I don’t think Bellinger is coming back there,” Nightengale said. “I think he’s more of a Yankee, I don’t rule out San Francisco. I’ll go Yankees or San Francisco with Bellinger. I just don’t see them bringing him back at $200 million-plus. I think they say, you know what, we got a ton out of him, the most we could, let’s move on from there and help construct their team in different ways by getting pitching, getting offense.”
Earlier this week, another MLB reporter intimated that at this point in the offseason, the Cubs are not focused on Bellinger and have other priorities in free agency. Jon Morosi talked about Bellinger’s market and his potential suitors, and while naming the Cubs during his discussion they do not seem to be a serious contender for Bellinger right now.
It seems as though if the Cubs ever do circle back to Bellinger this offseason it’ll only be if his market hasn’t exploded as much as he and his agent Scott Boras think it will.
Here are some contract projections for Bellinger.
Kiley McDaniel (ESPN): 7/$147M
Ben Clemens (FanGraphs): 6/$150M
Fangraphs crowd: 6/$144M
Jim Bowden (Athletic): 6/$144M
Tim Britton (Athletic): 6/$162M
Matthew Pouliot (NBCS): 6/$168M
It would obviously hurt to see Bellinger walk in free agency, but you have to imagine the Cubs are planning an aggressive approach to try and sign Shohei Ohtani or work out a trade with the San Diego Padres for Juan Soto. Or maybe Jed Hoyer has something else up his sleeve because who saw the Cubs hiring Craig Counsell?
The Cubs know they have to make a few upgrades this offseason. So, while it may be scary thinking that Bellinger, who carried them in the summer, is more likely than not signing elsewhere, I do have confidence that the front office adds multiple pieces that improves the roster after falling short in 2023.