The MLB offseason is still officially two months away but the whispers are beginning to take shape. According to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Giants are expected to be among the teams involved in power-hitting outfielder Cody Bellinger.
Report: SF Giants to expected to be aggressive suitor for former division foe
The tide has quickly shifted on the former division foe. Last offseason, he landed a one-year, $12.5 million contract with a mutual option for 2024. That mutual option would pay $12.5 million but it includes a $5 million buy out.
In essence, Bellinger will receive $17.5 million in guaranteed money from that deal as he is expected to decline his side of the mutual option in the hopes of landing a larger payday. The 28-year-old outfielder spent the first six seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers before reaching free agency for the first time last winter.
Bellinger was still arbitration-eligible last offseason, which was likely to carry an estimated cost of $20 million. He struggled to the tune of a .611 OPS in his last two seasons with the Dodgers, so Los Angeles non-tendered him as his performance did not merit the pay raise.
Bellinger was looking to re-establish market value when he signed with the Cubs last winter and that is a decision that will pay massive dividends. The 2019 NL MVP is slashing .320/.364/.552 (142 OPS+) with 23 home runs, 84 RBI, and 79 runs in 450 plate appearances. This includes a 6.9 percent walk rate against a 15.8 percent strikeout rate.
The left-handed bat will likely receive down-ballot MVP votes for a surging Cubs team that has surpassed the Giants in the Wild Card standings. According to Nightengale, the cost is going to be exorbitant as he predicts that Bellinger's next deal will be at least $200 million with the chances of exceeding $300 million.
The San Diego Padres and New York Yankees are likely to be linked to Bellinger as well. He and his representatives will have significant leverage this offseason, so it is possible that his next deal lands within the range predicted by Nightengale.
For the Giants, he would clearly become a middle-of-the-order threat that they have been seeking. The outfield group is a little crowded at the moment with Mike Yastrzemski, Michael Conforto, and Mitch Haniger all under team control/contract for next season. In the case of Conforto, he has an opt-out, but it would be a bit surprising if he exercised it after a middling first season with San Francisco.
The addition of Bellinger would probably push one of the incumbents out of the rotation, but given his upside, that is the move that the team might need to make.