The Chicago Cubs are very much alive in the National League playoff race, and the offseason addition of Cody Bellinger has been one of the biggest reasons why. And it could result in him getting an absolutely massive pay raise this winter.
The Cubs signed Bellinger to what has turned out to be a bargain one-year, $17M contract before the 2023 season in the hopes that he could once again become the star he was earlier in his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He has done that in a big way.
Entering Friday, Bellinger is hitting .327 with a .932 OPS which has made him one of the Cubs’ most consistent and dangerous hitters. It is a complete 180 from what he did the previous two years with the Dodgers when he hit under .200 collectively and was one of the worst hitters in all of baseball. That was a stunning drop given how dominant he was in his first four years when he was a foundation piece for the Dodgers.
Injuries played a significant role in those recent struggles.
His turnaround this year is going to make him one of the most sought-after players on the free agent market this winter, and if the Cubs want to keep him it is going to cost them a lot more than they paid this past winter.
Bellinger’s agent, Scott Boras, is already doing one of his classic Boras sell jobs.
Boras said that Bellinger is one of baseball’s “rare five-tool talents” and that he is ahead of everybody else on the free-agent market due to his age (he will be 28 this winter).
As good as Bellinger is, it would be quite a leap to suggest he is ahead of every other free agent on the market this winter when Shohei Ohtani is also a free agent.
The slight difference in age is not enough to make up for the sizable gap in value and production that Ohtani provides. But if you assume Ohtani is at the top of the list, it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that Bellinger might be next in line.
Given Bellinger’s age, as well as his overall track record in the majors, should result in him getting a huge contract from somebody this winter.
The two injury-plagued years where he struggled were obvious outliers in an otherwise productive career, and now that he is back there is no reason he should not be able to cash in on a contract that approaches $150M or perhaps even $200M. Quite a change from his market this past offseason.