Cody Bellinger

MLB insider: Cody Bellinger, other top free agents may not sign for several more weeks

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If it feels like the MLB offseason has moved at a snail's pace, that's because it has.

Despite pitcher's and catcher's reports for teams being less than three weeks away, 17 of MLB Trade Rumors' Top 50 free agents remain unsigned as of Thursday, including four of the top 10.

Perhaps most notably sitting at the top of the remaining free agency market is 2023 Cubs star Cody Bellinger, with reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, World Series champion Jordan Montgomery and perennial Gold Glove winner Matt Chapman all available.

The four players are all represented by Scott Boras, the longtime agent who has made a name for himself and his clients over the past several decades by securing multiple record-breaking deals.

It's no secret that part of Boras' recipe is holding out for as long as possible for his clients in an effort to secure the best deal, an effort that ESPN's Jeff Passan says is impacting the speed of signings this offseason.

"If that kind of deal is the ultimate upshot of the delay, sources told ESPN they do not anticipate it will come anytime soon. Multiple executives interested in signing Boras' top clients agreed that none of the four is likely to sign before the calendar turns to February -- and said it wouldn't surprise them if some remained unsigned when spring camps open," Passan said in his report.

Passan added that the caliber of players available at this point in the offseason, noting that only 11 players have signed major league contracts of more than five years later than Jan. 27, with two of those deals going to young Cuban defectors.

According to ESPN, the other nine contracts represented a fairly narrow range of outcomes, with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado headlining the list by signing deals in excess of $300 million, while Eric Hosmer, J.D. Martinez and Yu Darvish all earned deals over $100 million in 2018.

While financial difficulties have plagued the activity of many teams across MLB this offseason due to uncertainty over TV deals, Passan notes that several teams are likely in on at least one of the remaining four free agents at the top of the market.

In addition to the Chicago Cubs, Passan lists the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers and New York Yankees as teams that could be in play for the stars.

"The Giants match up well with multiple players. Chapman fits at third base; Bellinger could slot in the outfield or at first base. Though they intend to stretch out free agent signing Jordan Hicks as a starting pitcher, adding an arm the caliber of Snell would suit them. Toronto is focused on bats, and the return of Chapman or arrival of Bellinger would help salvage a disastrous offseason in which the Blue Jays whiffed on Ohtani and Yamamoto and have made just three noteworthy moves: re-signing center fielder Kevin Kiermaier and adding utilityman Isiah Kiner-Falefa and starting pitcher Yariel Rodriguez. The Cubs could re-sign Bellinger, lock down third with Chapman or pivot to either Snell or Montgomery. Texas and Boston make sense for Montgomery, while the Yankees and Angels have dabbled in the Snell sweepstakes," Passan said.

Passan speculates that an unknown team could also enter the fray on any of the top available players, which could force the hand of the big market teams who are established as in the running for their services.

Shall the impasse continue into pitcher's and catcher's reports and/or spring training, Passan notes that the players could seek a shorter-term deal with an higher average annual value, similar to the deal Carlos Correa signed with the Minnesota Twins ahead of the 2022 season that allowed him to hit the market again before 2023 and secure a six-year deal (following notable detours).

That predicament could favor the Cubs in their pursuit of Cody Bellinger, who are likely resistant to commit both too much money or too many years to the former MVP, whose long-term future in center field is uncertain, especially with Pete Crow-Armstrong waiting in the wings on the North Side.

Though the offseason has moved slow and spring training is quickly approaching, Scott Boras has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness and ability to hold the line for his clients, and it's hard to see Jed Hoyer and the Cubs budging first.

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