Cody Bellinger Emerges as Top Free Agent After Resurgent Season
What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, Cody Bellinger was considered a reclamation project. The Los Angeles Dodgers had non-tendered him and sent him out into free agency, unsure if he could be fixed. But now, Bellinger is one of the most sought-after free agents this offseason.
In the 2023 season, Bellinger had an impressive performance with the Chicago Cubs. He posted a .307/.356/.525 line with 26 home runs in 130 games, earning him a 4.4 WAR and potential MVP votes. His resurgence has caught the attention of many teams, making him a hot commodity in the free agent market.
R.J. Anderson, an expert in the field, ranked Bellinger as the No. 3 free agent available this offseason and the top among full-time position players. Anderson praised Bellinger’s offensive output and his ability to reestablish himself as a well-above-average hitter. However, there are concerns about the sustainability of his resurgence, as his ball-tracking data does not align with his previous power numbers.
Despite these concerns, Bellinger’s track record and defensive skills make him a valuable asset. A 28-year-old player with his abilities is easily worth $100 million, and he could potentially command a $200 million contract. However, some teams may be hesitant to invest heavily in him due to his poor performances in the previous seasons.
There are several teams that could be potential landing spots for Bellinger. The San Diego Padres, despite their financial constraints, could make a move for him if they can create payroll flexibility. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Bellinger’s former team, could also consider bringing him back, although they have other priorities, such as pursuing Shohei Ohtani.
Other teams that could be interested in Bellinger include the Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs, and New York Yankees. Each team has its own unique reasons for pursuing Bellinger, whether it’s to fill a positional need or add a left-handed power hitter to their lineup.
As Bellinger heads back out into free agency, he is in a much different position than last year. He has proven that he can bounce back and be a valuable contributor to a team. Now, it’s up to the interested clubs to decide if they are confident in his resurgence or if it’s just a matter of magical thinking.Cody Bellinger’s Remarkable Turnaround Makes Him a Hot Commodity in Free Agency
What a difference a year makes. Just 12 months ago, Cody Bellinger was considered a reclamation project, a former MVP who had fallen so far that the Los Angeles Dodgers decided not to tender him and sent him out into free agency. But now, Bellinger finds himself as one of the most sought-after free agents this offseason.
In the 2023 season, Bellinger showcased his skills with the Chicago Cubs, posting an impressive .307/.356/.525 line with 26 home runs in 130 games. His performance earned him a 4.4 WAR and put him in contention for MVP votes. At just 28 years old, Bellinger’s potential and track record make him an attractive option for teams in need of a star player.
R.J. Anderson, an expert in the field, ranked Bellinger as the third-best free agent available this offseason and the top among full-time position players. Anderson highlighted Bellinger’s ability to make a comeback, comparing it to a magic trick. Bellinger’s offensive output disappeared for a while but reappeared this season, albeit in a different form. He traded quality of contact for quantity of contact, resulting in a successful season. However, teams must now decide if Bellinger’s resurgence is sustainable or merely a matter of luck.
Bellinger’s impressive performance this season, combined with his MVP track record and Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field, makes him a highly valuable player. He is expected to command a contract worth at least $100 million, with a chance to reach $200 million. However, some teams may be hesitant to invest heavily in him due to his poor seasons in 2021-22 and unimpressive exit velocities.
With his youth and versatility, Bellinger could fit into the plans of any of the 30 MLB teams. Contending teams in 2024 will likely be the most aggressive in pursuing him. Let’s take a look at the top 10 landing spots for Bellinger in free agency:
10. San Diego Padres:
The Padres may face financial constraints this offseason, making a pursuit of Bellinger unlikely. However, General Manager A.J. Preller has a history of making unexpected moves, so it’s not entirely out of the question.
9. Los Angeles Dodgers:
The Dodgers and Bellinger ended their relationship on good terms last offseason, leaving the door open for a potential reunion. However, Bellinger would likely be a Plan B for the Dodgers, who are expected to aggressively pursue Shohei Ohtani and prioritize pitching.
8. Philadelphia Phillies:
While it may be unlikely, the Phillies, under the leadership of Dave Dombrowski, could make a move for a top free agent like Bellinger. Shifting Bryce Harper to first base would create an opening in the outfield that Bellinger could fill.
7. Boston Red Sox:
The Red Sox’s approach to the offseason is uncertain with a new chief baseball officer, Craig Breslow, at the helm. However, if ownership aims to contend in 2024, Bellinger could be a valuable addition to their roster.
6. Seattle Mariners:
Bellinger would be a great fit for the Mariners, who need another bat and a left-handed hitter with power. Pairing him with Julio Rodríguez in the outfield would provide excellent defense and offensive firepower.
5. Houston Astros:
The Astros struggled offensively down the stretch this season and could benefit from Bellinger’s presence in the lineup. However, their financial commitments to Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman next offseason may impact their pursuit of Bellinger.
4. Toronto Blue Jays:
The Blue Jays have been consistently good but have yet to reach their full potential. Adding Bellinger to their roster would balance their lineup and maximize their chances of winning a title in the short-term.
3. Chicago Cubs:
On paper, Bellinger and the Cubs are a perfect match. He had a resurgent season with the team, and they have a promising group