Cody Bellinger outperformed even the loftiest expectations anyone in the Chicago Cubs organization had when they signed him to a one-year, $17.5 million offseason last winter, earning National League Comeback Player of the Year honors in the process.
Even with his bounceback campaign, the Cubs missed the postseason for a third straight season. He proved invaluable to the team, both offensively and defensively. Still, a reunion may not be in the cards in free agency, with Bellinger set to cash in in a weak free agent class of offensive threats.
"I think Bellinger is as good as gone."
The same ESPN report from Jesse Rogers that included that quote from an industry source also claims the team's odds of signing two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani are better than their chances of re-signing Bellinger, a bold statement when talking about a franchise that's never even eclipsed $200 million on a free agent signing.
Cubs have shown they won't overextend themselves financially
For a long time, the Cubs have stuck to their guns when it comes to how they value players - and when they feel the market outpaces those valuations, they've walked away: we've seen it time and time again, both in free agency and in internal extension talks with guys like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and others.
So if the Cubs, indeed, are dedicated to staying out of a bidding war for Bellinger, their chances of bringing him back long-term seem slim, at best. There are simply too many teams in need of a big bat (a number of them large market clubs with deep pockets) to think it likely he comes back to Chicago, regardless of how much he enjoyed his year here.