The seller's market appears to be shrinking just ahead of the trade deadline. According to Jesse Rogers of ESPN, the Chicago Cubs have pulled power-hitting outfielder Cody Bellinger off of the market. The SF Giants were a potential landing spot given their need for offensive help in the outfield
Chicago Cubs pull SF Giants outfield target off of the market
The Cubs have snuck back into the playoff race after going 15-9 in July. They have a 53-51 overall record, which is only 3.0 games out of the Wild Card race.
The Cubs might be fine playing for a Wild Card spot, but the NL Central is still up for grabs as the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds sit only 3.5 games and 3.0 games ahead of the Cubs, respectively.
So, the decision to pull Bellinger off of the market is no surprise as the Cubs now look to buy. Oddly enough, the NL is relatively segmented between buyers and sellers with the San Diego Padres being the demarcation point. The Padres currently have a 51-54 record and every team with a worse record in the NL is selling, whereas teams with a better record are buying. There is no word yet on their official direction.
Bellinger would have been an appealing trade target. The former MVP is in the midst of a career resurgence with the Cubs as he is slashing .315/.368/.540 (141 wRC+) with 15 home runs, 46 RBI, and 55 runs in 310 plate appearances in 2023. This includes a 7.7 percent walk rate with a 16.1 percent strikeout rate.
The 28-year-old had a pair of subpar seasons prior to this year, leading to the Los Angeles Dodgers non-tending him in the offseason. Bellinger was scheduled to make roughly $20 million through arbitration, but that was too steep of a cost given that he struggled to the tune of a .654 OPS in 550 plate appearances last year.
The Cubs signed him to a one-year, $17.5 million deal with a mutual option for 2024. Given his strong play, the power-hitting outfielder will likely decline his portion of the mutual option in favor of reaching free agency again where he is expected to command a lucrative payday.
The Cubs do hope that they can work out a longer-term extension and keeping him will could pave the way for that. Nevertheless, the Giants could use the help as their outfielders have posted an 89 wRC+ while being worth 2.9 fWAR. Both of those marks rank near the bottom of baseball. It is a moot point now as Bellinger will remain in Chicago for the remainder of the season.