Marcus Stroman Hypes Up Cody Bellinger As Free-Agency Saga Drags On

Cody Bellinger

Getty Cody Bellinger

Spring training camps are open, but the Cody Bellinger free-agency saga continues to drag on. The star first baseman’s market has been hot for months, but with Bellinger still yet to secure a deal for the 2024 season, his former-Chicago Cubs teammate Marcus Stroman is ready to offer some hype.

“I love Belli,” Stroman told MLB Network’s Jon Morosi on February 15. “I’m hoping he gets the best deal possible. Big fan of Belli. He’s an incredible human. I love how he competes. His preparation is elite. I think he’s back on MVP Belli track.”

On January 17, Stroman signed a two year, $37 million deal with the New York Yankees out of free agency. He previously played two seasons for the Cubs, and shared a roster with Bellinger in 2023.

When he joined the Cubs before the 2023 season, Bellinger was coming off a very underwhelming stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers. On a one-year, $17.5 million “prove-it” deal in Chicago, the 28-year-old promptly reinvented himself as one of the best hitters in MLB, finishing 2023 with a .307/.356/.525 slash line and ranking fifth in the NL in slugging and sixth in OPS (.881). Bellinger recorded a career-topping 20 stolen bases, and his 26 home runs, 97 RBI, and 153 hits were the best he’s posted since 2019.

At the end of last season, Bellinger declined his deal’s mutual option to reset his value in free agency, and Cubs fans certainly haven’t made it a secret this winter that they want to see him brought back for 2024. The slugger quickly became a fan favorite in Chicago during his comeback season, and fans proved as much when they chanted his name at owner Tom Ricketts during Cubs Convention last month.

Unfortunately for Stroman, the Yankees

Bellinger’s Projected Contract

On December 19, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported Bellinger’s agent Scott Boras was looking for a contract north of the $200 million mark. A month prior, Tim Dierkes, Anthony Franco, and Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors predicted Bellinger would be looking at a 12-year, $264 million deal this winter, so it’s safe to say that if the Cubs want a reunion with the first baseman, it’s going to cost them.

Will Bellinger Return to Chicago?

On January 31, USA Today’s Scott Boeck published the predictions of five staffers regarding potential landing spots for top free agents, and all five projected Bellinger would reunite with the Cubs. Still, nothing has been finalized between the two parties, and the Cubs’ free agent backup options are quickly disappearing.

Earlier in the winter, the Cubs were linked to slugger Rhys Hoskins, but on January 23, he signed a two-year, $34 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. Chicago was also looking at Justin Turner as a backup option if a deal with Bellinger didn’t work out, but on January 30, he joined the Toronto Blue Jays on a one-year, $13 million contract.

Matt Chapman and Brandon Belt are still on the market, though both have been linked to other teams this winter (Chapman with the Giants and Belt with the Rangers) and the Cubs would need to make a big move very quickly to secure either slugger.

On February 3, Cubs general manager Carter Hawkins told Inside The Clubhouse on 670 The Score that the team has internal options for first base, including Michael Busch, who they recently acquired in a trade with the Dodgers. The majority of Busch’s experience has been at third base, though he has spent some time at first, and Hawkins expressed concern about the 26-year-old facing left-handed pitchers, saying he is unlikely to start against lefties right away.

Despite Busch being presented as an everyday option for first base, it certainly appears the Cubs are putting all their eggs in Bellinger’s basket.

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