(Audacy) It’ll cost the Chicago Cubs quite a bit to hold onto center fielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger in free agency, and USA Today insider Bob Nightengale doesn’t envision them doing that.
Bellinger took a one-year prove it deal with the Cubs ahead of the 2023 season after a three-year decline in Los Angeles that followed him winning the National League MVP award in 2019. Prove it he did, becoming an indispensable part of a Chicago squad that nearly snuck into the postseason. The 28-year-old Bellinger hit .307 with 26 homers and 97 RBIs in 2023 while playing strong defense at both center field and first base.
That showing should be enough to drum up a fair bit of interest in Bellinger, who figures to be one of the most sought-after position players in free agency. It has the makings of a bidding war, which Nightengale told Audacy’s Barreled Up podcast he can’t see the Cubs overextending themselves in.
“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.”
MLB Trade Rumors has Bellinger as its No. 2 free agent, estimating his next deal at 12 years and $264 million. The Cubs are expected to seriously pursue two-way star Shohei Ohtani in free agency, which could ultimately take them out of the running for Bellinger.