With Juan Soto joining forces with Aaron Judge in the Bronx and the Giants handing out a massive deal to Korean center fielder Jung Hoo Lee, the market for Cody Bellinger seems to have narrowed in rather dramatic fashion of late, potentially leaving just the Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs left in the hunt.
Cubs, Blue Jays seem like the top landing spots for Cody Bellinger
According to Cubs beat writer Sahadev Sharma, the team and Bellinger both remain interested in a reunion. The big sticking point, of course, will be the terms of a new deal. Scott Boras is eying a deal well north of $200 million while Chicago seems intent on something closer to the $160-180 million range for the reigning NL Comeback Player of the Year.
While Sharma notes the Cubs are trying to not block the path of top outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong, Bellinger still makes sense given his ability to also play first base - meaning he'd provide an insurance polocy on an unproven asset in center field while also addressing arguably the team's weakest position on the depth chart at first.
Bellinger returned to form in a big way for the Cubs in 2023, setting the tone for an offense that scored more runs than every team in the National League outside of the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. Capable of providing elite defense at multiple positions and changing the game in a multitude of ways, a reunion with Bellinger would at least start to assuage the fears of a fanbase that's growing increasingly impatient as big names come off the board.
The Blue Jays could go all-in on him after missing out on Ohtani in dramatic fashion and be especially incentivized to push their chips in with just two guaranteed years of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette left before both hit free agency. The Cubs, meanwhile, have been eerily quiet - and not adding a centerpiece to the offense would be a total disaster, especially after bringing in Craig Counsell on a record-breaking contract.
Given he doesn't turn 29 until next July, Bellinger should have no problem scoring a long-term deal. But the Giants and Yankees were widely viewed as the frontrunners for his services going into the winter. Now, with both having made major outfield additions, there's a much clearer path for the Cubs to bring him back into the fold after an impressive showing in 2023.