For the previous six weeks, the offseason has centered on three people: Shohei Ohtani, Juan Soto and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. With the primary two having discovered new properties and Yamamoto anticipated to decide on his group inside per week or two, there’s more likely to be better consideration positioned on Cody Bellinger.
MLBTR’s No. 2 free agent getting into the winter, Bellinger has had a quiet offseason since declining his finish of a mutual possibility and rejecting a qualifying supply from the Cubs. Early stories tied the lefty-hitting heart fielder to the Yankees, Giants and Blue Jays. The incumbents have some quantity of curiosity in a reunion, though the presence of highly-regarded rookie Pete Crow-Armstrong provides them leverage to go on what’s absolutely nonetheless a lofty asking value.
Final week, the New York Publish’s Jon Heyman wrote that Bellinger’s camp on the Boras Company was in search of to reach or surpass $200M. But it’s honest to presume that the previous MVP’s market has dwindled over the previous month. Together with Soto, the Yankees acquired Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham to affix Aaron Judge within the outfield. San Francisco signed Jung Hoo Lee to play heart subject as a substitute. That knocks out the 2 groups extensively perceived because the favorites. (Firstly of the offseason, each MLBTR staffer pegged the Giants or Yankees as Bellinger’s touchdown spot in our free-agent prediction contest.)
The place does that depart issues for the two-time All-Star?
- Angels: It’s troublesome to determine precisely the place the Angels go from right here. Los Angeles has to date restricted its offseason exercise to a trio of low-cost center aid additions (Luis García, Adam Cimber and Adam Kolarek). Ohtani was their high precedence. After shedding him, they’ll want to find out how aggressively so as to add to a roster that received solely 73 video games regardless of his MVP efficiency. GM Perry Minasian and new skipper Ron Washington have been clear they’re not about to rebuild. Bringing in a front-line beginning pitcher seems the highest precedence, however they’ll additionally want to handle a lineup that ranked sixteenth in runs and misplaced a .304/.412/.654 hitter. Bellinger would give the Angels an choice to cowl heart subject if Mike Trout wants any time on the injured checklist. He’d push Mickey Moniak to a fourth outfield position and will take a number of the out there DH at-bats. He’s additionally a marquee title who starred in Los Angeles, which might maintain attraction to proprietor Arte Moreno.
- Blue Jays: USA Today’s Bob Nightengale wrote over the weekend that the Jays appeared like the highest suitor for Bellinger. It’s not laborious to see why. The Jays got here up empty on their pursuits of Ohtani and Soto. Whereas nobody would contemplate Bellinger the identical type of improve, Toronto nonetheless has ample short-term payroll house and a necessity for a left-handed bat. They’re additionally with out a clear reply in heart subject after Kevin Kiermaier hit free company. The Jays might signal a nook outfielder and bump Daulton Varsho to heart (or just attempt to re-sign Kiermaier), however Bellinger is the very best all-around place participant on the open market.
- Cubs: Bellinger was among the many Cubs’ most dear gamers a season in the past. Whereas they could have initially seen him as a one-year stopgap to Crow-Armstrong, there’s an argument for bringing him again. The Cubs don’t have a transparent possibility at first base, the place Bellinger is a plus defender. His means to play all three outfield spots would afford the group the pliability to begin Crow-Armstrong in Triple-A (the place he struck out at a regarding charge in 34 video games final season) while not having to depend on journeyman Mike Tauchman to take care of his surprisingly robust kind from 2023. Even when Tauchman and/or Crow-Armstrong show deserving of on a regular basis taking part in time, the Cubs might rotate Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki by means of designated hitters to maintain their outfield recent.
- Mets: New York might improve over both Starling Marte or DJ Stewart within the nook outfield. There’s room for Bellinger to affix Brandon Nimmo as a long-term outfield funding, nevertheless it doesn’t appear that’s how the entrance workplace is approaching this winter. The Mets are in on Yamamoto however seem to view him as an distinctive case in what’d in any other case be a comparatively quiet offseason as they focus totally on 2025.
- Nationals: Whereas Washington isn’t a direct contender, they might make a respectable push for the playoffs by the 2025 season. Bellinger, who turned 28 in July, would nonetheless undertaking as a productive participant throughout that window. The Nats have high outfield prospects Dylan Crews and James Wood looming, however solely Lane Thomas ought to have a short-term spot locked down. The Nationals struck early on the Jayson Werth signing to speed up a rebuild a decade in the past. There’d be some sense in doing that once more, however they’ve been pretty quiet in current offseasons and nonetheless have organizational uncertainty concerning their native TV deal as a part of the contentious MASN association with the Orioles.
- Phillies: Philadelphia is in on Yamamoto, suggesting a capability to stretch the funds for the fitting participant. Whether or not Bellinger qualifies isn’t clear. Brandon Marsh is a strong center-field possibility, whereas the Phils have Johan Rojas and Cristian Pache as choices for the nook reverse Nick Castellanos. It’s not a horrible outfield, nevertheless it’s additionally maybe the weakest space of an in any other case wonderful roster. The Phils haven’t shied away from pursuing star expertise beneath proprietor John Middleton and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.
- Mariners: Seattle is probably going to herald a minimum of one outfielder to affix Julio Rodríguez and a gaggle that in any other case consists of gamers like Dominic Canzone, Taylor Trammell and Sam Haggerty. Bellinger suits on the roster, however the M’s have to date sliced payroll amidst uncertainty concerning the revenues from their local TV deal with Root Sports activities. President of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto hasn’t signed a free agent hitter to a multi-year contract in his eight-plus years main the Seattle entrance workplace. Breaking that streak with Bellinger can be a large shift in working process.
- Padres: A lot of what applies to the Mariners may be stated concerning the Padres. They need to compete after a disappointing playoff miss. They want outfield assist to take action. But they’re additionally dealing with questions on their broadcasting deal and have solely minimize payroll up to now this offseason. With Lee’s six-year, $113M deal pushing past their spending range, it’s laborious to see how they might make Bellinger work.
- Rangers: The defending World Collection winners might ostensibly make room for Bellinger, maybe by buying and selling incumbent heart fielder Leody Taveras to handle an injury-plagued rotation. GM Chris Younger has instructed they’re unlikely to make the type of free-agent splash they’ve in prior offseasons, although, so it’s far likelier they stick to an inner group of Adolis García, Taveras and Evan Carter whereas awaiting the arrival of high prospect Wyatt Langford.