The SF Giants are reportedly still in the mix for Cody Bellinger even after landing Jung Hoo Lee on a six-year, $113 million pact. However, it will be a costly move as Bellinger is seeking more than $200 million in free agency this winter, per Jon Heyman of the New York Post.
Potential SF Giants outfield target seeking at least $200 million in free agency
Interestingly, Heyman lists the Toronto Blue Jays as major players for the left-handed bat while the incumbent Chicago Cubs are in the mix as well. On the heels of winning 89 games and reaching the playoffs, the Blue Jays are looking to make a big splash this winter.
They were seen as a potential landing spot for Shohei Ohtani and were even believed to be the favorites to sign him after a couple of false reports arose. However, Ohtani eventually signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 10 years and $700 million. The Giants were in the mix as well, but they were on the outside looking in on Ohani.
The Giants expect to remain aggressive even after signing Lee. They have been connected to some of the top pitchers on the market. That is their biggest priority now. Adding an outfielder, even one of Bellinger's caliber, would be an oblong fit.
The Giants already have five outfielders under contract for 2024, including Lee, Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Slater, Mitch Haniger, and Michael Conforto. Lee is expected to be the everyday center fielder with Yastrzemski moving to right field. Haniger and Conforto will likely split time at left field and DH with Slater serving as the fourth outfielder.
Plus, Luis Matos remains on the 40-man roster as well. They could add an outfielder but they probably need to move one or more off of the roster before they do. That said, adding Bellinger would immediately raise the ceiling of an outfield group that was one of the worst in 2023.
The $200 million price tag is no surprise given that the power-hitting outfielder will be entering his age-28 season in 2024. That is relatively young for free agency. Plus, he is coming off of a solid campaign with the Cubs in which he posted a .307/.356/.525 line (133 OPS+) with 26 home runs, 97 RBI, and 95 runs in 130 plate appearances. This includes a 7.2 percent walk rate, 15.7 percent strikeout rate, and a .236 ISO.
Bellinger did benefit from a .319 BABIP, which is 34 points higher than his career norm. And, he only had an 87.9-MPH average exit velocity last year, which is the lowest mark of his career.
There are some red flags in his 2023 numbers, which is compounded by the fact that he struggled to the tune of a .611 OPS in the two seasons leading into 2023. The Dodgers non-tendered the 2019 MVP last winter rather than pay him a raise through free agency.
The 28-year-old outfielder then joined the Cubs and is looking to cash out after a strong season. There is a high level of risk in his profile and his price tag will undoubtedly scare off some teams. It would not be surprising to see Bellinger's market move slowly this winter.