Can the Yankees afford to accept Cody Bellinger’s lofty asking price?

Cody Bellinger has been in the spotlight as one of the New York Yankees' main targets during 2023 offseason.

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The New York Yankees are actively seeking left-handed hitters with outfield capabilities in the free agency market and Cody Bellinger is the most suitable option for them. However, according to information from Brendan Kuty of The Athletic, there are indications that the free-agent center fielder’s asking price might make it less likely for him to join the team in pinstripes.

According to the source, the Yankees have expressed interest in Cody Bellinger, but they mentioned that his asking price has been set prohibitively high thus far. Meanwhile, there have been reports of trade discussions between the Yankees and the San Diego Padres concerning three-time All-Star Juan Soto.

Cody Bellinger wants a deal prohibitively high for Yankees

Having rejected a qualifying offer valued at approximately $20.3 million from the Chicago Cubs and subsequently entering free agency, Cody Bellinger’s potential signing by the Yankees would necessitate the forfeiture of a future draft pick.

Free agent Cody Bellinger is a favorite to sign with the Yankees in the 2023 offseason.

According to information from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, he is said to be pursuing a contract that exceeds the sum of $250 million. The Yankees have been showing interest in the 28-year-old for months now. As per Jon Heyman of the New York Post’s report on November 7, the two parties had engaged in initial discussions.

Cody Bellinger experienced a decline in production following his National League MVP-winning season in 2019. However, he underwent a career resurgence during his solitary season with Chicago. As a part of the Cubs, he achieved a batting average of .307, along with 26 home runs and 97 RBIs. Additionally, Cody Bellinger maintained a .323 average with runners in scoring position.

The Yankees faced challenges in scoring last season, with significant players sidelined due to injuries. The team’s total of 673 runs for the year marked the franchise’s lowest in a 162-game season since 2014.

While Cody Bellinger may not singularly solve New York’s offensive struggles, he could serve as a valuable complementary bat alongside superstar Aaron Judge in the team’s lineup. The resolution of an agreeable contract price between the two parties remains uncertain.

The Yankees dilemma

Yankess offseason target Cody Bellinger with 2020 WS trophy.

The New York Yankees stand as strong contenders to secure the services of free-agent power hitter Cody Bellinger from the Chicago Cubs. However, the duration of his wait for a contract remains uncertain.

As the Winter Meetings in Nashville approach this week, Cody Bellinger might experience a more extended waiting period compared to other prominent free agents currently available, such as San Diego’s free-agent closer, Josh Hader. It remains unclear whether financial considerations will play a significant role in the potential delay for both players.

In a prior part of the season, salary analysts from the New York Post anticipated that Cody Bellinger could secure a contract reaching up to $240 million, spanning a potential eight-year duration, with an average annual value ranging between $27.5 million and $30 million.

As per the latest information from USA Today on Sunday, it has been disclosed that Cody Bellinger is actively pursuing a contract surpassing the $250 million mark.

The probable influences behind this situation are a subdued market, characterized by limited availability of top-tier talent in free agency, coupled with the heightened competition for two specific players – Shohei Ohtani, the slugger from the Los Angeles Angels, and Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

A considerable number of big teams are currently focused on securing either one or both of these players. According to reports from USA Today, it is unlikely that a deal for Ohtani will materialize this week while Yamamoto has until January 4th to secure a deal within his posting period.

Once the signings for those two players are finalized, other teams may redirect their focus towards Cody Bellinger. However, the reported contractual terms he is seeking might be a contributing factor to the potential delay in his acquisition.

Cubs' Cody Bellinger is a possible Yankees trade target in 2023.

Cody Bellinger experienced a career resurgence with the Cubs in the previous year. In 2023, he earned a Silver Slugger award, boasting impressive statistics with a slash line of .307/.356/.525/.881 in 130 games. Notably, despite missing a month due to injury, he showcased his prowess with 26 home runs and 97 RBI.

This resurgence followed two challenging seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, during which he struggled to maintain a batting average above .200 and grappled with injuries that hindered his performance, preventing him from reaching the standards that earned him the title of the 2019 National League MVP and a 2020 World Series champion.

Cody Bellinger boasts additional accolades, having been honored as the NL Rookie of the Year and receiving a Gold Glove in recognition of his outstanding fielding skills.

Concerns surround Cody Bellinger, who experienced a resurgence in 2023 following two challenging seasons, marked by injuries and a lack of robust metrics, such as a high hard-hit rate, which the Yankees typically prioritize.

On a positive note, Cody Bellinger’s versatility allows him to excel in center field, with the potential to transition to first base later in the contract. If the Yankees find the asking price for Juan Soto to be too steep, they might consider turning to Bellinger.

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