The Cubs fuel and fire this season, Cody Bellinger, will be an unrestricted free agent this winter after finishing the one-year deal worth $17.5 million he signed with the Cubs last offseason.
How much will his next contract be worth? ESPN's Jeff Passan weighed in on Waddle & Silvy on ESPN 1000. Mark Silverman poised a hypothetical contract at $210 million over seven years as a benchmark for Bellinger.
"I think that's probably a little high. I don't think clubs are gonna have an easy time forgetting the last two years," Passan said on the show.
Bellinger struggled, heavily, before revamping his career on the North Side this season.
He hit .210 and .165 over his last two seasons with the Dodgers. And while his defensive performance stayed relatively the same, his bat wasn't the same as when he won MVP in 2019.
But, now, the tides have changed for Bellinger. He's hitting .323 with a .919 OPS. Is Bellinger back to his elite form, and can he maintain it going forward?
"No, I'm not going to say this is who he is going forward because who he is right now, is like one of the ten best players in baseball," Passan said. "After two seasons, in which he hit like a combined .190, and his slugging percentage was practically the same as what his batting average is this year. After two full years of that, can I sit here and say he's one of the ten best players in baseball going forward? No, I can't do that."
As far as the specifics of a Bellinger contract are concerned, USA Today's Bob Nightengale predicted the lefty slugger to land somewhere between $100-150 million on his next deal.
"He’s had a big year, so I would think that there will be a massive price tag on him, over $100 million," Nightengale said on a July 27 episode of the Jack Vita Show. "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.”
It's important to remember the Cubs nearly sold Bellinger at the MLB trade deadline to reload their roster. By selling on his extraordinarily high value, the Cubs could've reaped some lucrative benefits from the center fielder.
Alas, the front office chose to buy at the deadline on account of a winning streak and persistence from the dugout. Bellinger is here to stay on the North Side this season. But can the Cubs re-sign him to a long-term deal?
If they can't, their decision to hang onto him this season could be considered a grave mistake, especially if they don't accomplish their goals in the postseason.