Cody Bellinger Rumors: 4 Best Trade Fits at the Deadline

Here are four possible suitors for Cody Bellinger, should the Cubs decide to trade him ahead of the deadline.

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 19: Cody Bellinger #24 of the Chicago Cubs watches the flight of a home run in a game against the Kansas City Royals at Wrigley Field on August 19, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Matt Dirksen/Getty Images)

Cody Bellinger was a difficult free agent to evaluate last offseason. He may be even harder for teams to figure out if the Chicago Cubs consider trade offers for him in advance of the July 30 trade deadline.

Bellinger bounced back last season with the Cubs, hitting .307 with 26 home runs, 97 RBIs and an .881 OPS. However, that came after three poor offensive seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers that ultimately led L.A. to non-tender the former NL MVP.

Moreover, even in Bellinger’s resurgent 2023 campaign, he made hard contact just 29.2% of the time, a drastic drop from the 49.2% clip he posted in his MVP campaign.

So, despite a strong 2023 performance, being on the right side of 30, and providing tremendous defensive flexibility, Bellinger had to settle for a three-year, $80 million deal in free agency. The deal includes player opt-outs after both 2024 and 2025.

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Right now, Bellinger is hitting .266 with nine home runs, 37 RBIs and a .738 OPS, meaning it’s very possible he won’t exercise his opt-out this upcoming offseason. That means potential suitors will most likely value him as a player under contract through at least 2025.

The problem is Bellinger had a big second half a year ago, posting a .909 OPS after the All-Star break. If he’s able to do anything like that this year, he’ll be opting out and returning to the open market. While a contending team would welcome a big second half from Bellinger if they acquire him, it may also mean he’s a rental, as opposed to a multi-year commitment.

So, you can see why a Bellinger trade may not come to fruition. Still, there are few players available on the market who offer more upside. With that in mind, here are four possible suitors for Bellinger, should the Cubs decide to trade him.

Stats updated prior to games on July 8.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners should be connected to just about every player capable of making an offensive impact. They have a World Series-caliber pitching staff, but president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto needs to rebuild an offense that ranks 27th in runs per game on the fly.

Obviously, Bellinger isn’t going to usurp Julio Rodríguez in center field, and the Mariners would probably like to see if first baseman Ty France, an All-Star just two years ago, can turn his season around.

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That’s fine. Bellinger could replace Mitch Haniger in right field. In case you forgot, Bellinger won the 2019 NL MVP while playing right field. He also won his lone Gold Glove Award that season, when he posted 18 defensive runs saved, seven outs above average and 10 outfield assists.

Bellinger doesn’t have a no-trade clause, so he couldn’t block a trade to Seattle, which plays its home games at the notoriously hitter-unfriendly T-Mobile Park.

However, the Mariners would have to consider that Bellinger is perhaps more likely to opt out of his deal after this year (regardless of his results) if they acquire him rather than if he’s dealt to a team that plays its home games in a bandbox.

Philadelphia Phillies

Former MLB general manager Jim Bowden recently predicted on his radio show that Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski will acquire one of three star center fielders: Luis Robert Jr., Jazz Chisholm Jr. or Bellinger.

A Phillies lineup that already includes Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, Bryson Stott and Brandon Marsh would surely prefer to add a right-handed bat, but there’s no doubt that even if he gave them a very left-handed lineup, Bellinger would represent a massive upgrade offensively over Johan Rojas.

Bellinger isn’t the defender in center field that Rojas is, but he’s at least as good as Marsh, who the Phillies prefer to play in left field.

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With baseball’s best record, anything short of a parade is going to feel disappointing for the Phillies this year. And their biggest hole right now is clearly in center field, an area Bellinger could improve, even if he’s not a perfect fit.

Kansas City Royals

Would Royals ownership authorize general manager J.J. Picollo to make a trade like this, knowing that if Bellinger doesn’t opt out after this year, there’s a chance they could be left to pay him $52.5 million over the next two seasons? That’s unclear, particularly if the Cubs aren’t willing to foot any of the bill.

What is clear, though, is that the three primary outfielders for the Royals — Hunter Renfroe, Kyle Isbel and MJ Melendez — are all under .700 in terms of OPS. With Bellinger able to play all three outfield spots and shift to first base on days that Vinnie Pasquantino is at DH, there’s definitely an immediate baseball fit here.

You could argue that the Royals should take a bigger-picture view, given that shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. and starter Cole Ragans will be with the team for the foreseeable future.

However, their two other All-Stars – catcher Salvador Perez and right-hander Seth Lugo — are in their mid-30s, and this is a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2015. Perhaps the Royals should strike while the iron is hot, and trading for Bellinger would be doing that.

Houston Astros

Admittedly, it would be strange to see Bellinger — who was on the Dodgers, when they, under questionable circumstances, lost the 2017 World Series to the Astros — end up in Houston.

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Before any trade, there would have to be a frank conversation between Bellinger and members of the Astros organization to see if they could move past his valid, but harsh critiques of the Astros that he made in February of 2020.

“Those guys were cheating for three years,” Bellinger said after the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal came to light. “I think what people don’t realize is [Jose] Altuve stole an MVP from [Aaron] Judge in 2017. Everyone knows they stole the ring from us. But it’s over.”

It may be that there’s no coming back from that quotation for Bellinger. He may not want to come back from it.

But Bellinger would be a drastic improvement at first base for the Astros, while also giving manager Joe Espada an option capable of playing all three outfield positions. If you didn’t know the prior history, this fit would make a lot more sense.