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MLB Insider Predicts Cody Bellinger Will Receive Franchise-Altering Contract

How much money will Chicago Cubs outfielder Cody Bellinger command, when he tests the free agent market this winter? An MLB insider gives a dollar estimate, and it isn't cheap.
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In his first year with the Chicago Cubs, Cody Bellinger is enjoying a resurgent season and appears to be in line for a substantial payday this winter.

In a July 27 episode of the Jack Vita Show, longtime national baseball writer for USA Today Bob Nightengale recently gave an estimate as to what dollar amount he thinks Bellinger — and his agent Scott Boras — will be looking for in contract negotiations this coming offseason.

"His agent is Scott Boras," Nightengale told the Jack Vita Show. "He's had a big year, so I would think that there will be a massive price tag on him, over $100 million. So I think he's going to be sitting out until next February, signing right around spring training... I wouldn't be surprised if they ask for at least $150 million."

Shortly after he was non-tendered by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bellinger signed a one-year, $17.5 million contract with the Cubs last December. The deal includes a mutual option for 2024, but given how well Bellinger has performed, it seems very likely that the versatile outfielder and first baseman will test the waters of free agency once again, upon the conclusion of the 2023 season.

Through 81 games, Bellinger is slashing a remarkable .326/.378/.925 with 16 home runs, 53 RBI and 17 stolen bases, while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense at two different positions.

Bellinger's numbers are up drastically from the past three seasons. Between 2020 and 2022, the 2019 National League MVP slashed just .203/.272/.648. Eventually, he fell out of favor with the Dodgers' brass, as the club chose not to tender him a contract for what was scheduled to be his final year before hitting free agency.

Nightengale did not provide an estimate as to how many years Bellinger's camp would be seeking in a potential contract this winter. He did however note that some teams might be hesitant to shell out a large contract to the 28 year-old, highlighting concerns that Bellinger's 2023 could be a fluke.

"The jury is out on Bellinger," Nightengale said. "The Dodgers are smarter than everybody... and they gave up on him. I don't think they thought he was going to do what he's doing, but I'm not sure how many people think he's going to sustain this either."

Will the Cubs pony up $150 million to Bellinger, one year after they spent nearly $300 million spread across five free agents? The Cubs are locked into contracts with corner outfielders Seiya Suzuki and Ian Happ through 2026, but would have an opening in center field, with top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong expected to be coming up through the pipeline soon.

Bellinger has quickly endeared himself to fans on the North Side, who would be sad to see him go after just one year. The Cubs decided not to trade him at the deadline last week, which could be an encouraging sign for fans that the two-time All-Star is here to stay.

You can catch the full conversation with Bob Nightengale on the Jack Vita Show here:

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