Report: Cody Bellinger still on SF Giants’ radar after signing Lee
Dec 13, 2023, 9:37 AM
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
The San Francisco Giants and team president Farhan Zaidi have received heavy criticism following years of missing out on marquee free agents.
Last year, it was Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa. Before that, it was Bryce Harper. Years before that, Jon Lester. In 2023, the Giants were a finalist for superstar Shohei Ohtani–and even matched the Los Angeles Dodgers’ massive offer with identical deferrals–to no avail.
While recently-signed outfielder Jung Hoo Lee isn’t a superstar at the MLB level yet, the signing of the 25-year-old KBO standout acts as a hopeful precursor for more encouraging moves from Zaidi and the Giants front office.
It has been heavily reported that San Francisco met with Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the top free-agent pitcher on the market, as he selects his first MLB team.
We know the Giants are heavy on Yamamoto, but will they continue to chase free-agent bats after signing Lee to a six-year, $113 million deal?
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the signing of Lee has not deterred San Francisco from showing interest in free-agent outfielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger.
The Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres all had expressed strong interest in Jung Hoo Lee before he signed his 6-year, $113 million deal with the San Francisco Giants.
Center fielder/1B Cody Bellinger now squarely on those teams’ radar, along with the Giants.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 12, 2023
More on the Giants’ pursuit of Cody Bellinger
Giants fans are familiar with Bellinger from his days with the Dodgers, where he took home Rookie of the Year honors in 2017, an MVP award in 2019, and a World Series title in 2020.
After a brutal three-season stretch from 2o2o-2022 that saw Bellinger bat .204 over 295 games, Bellinger was designated for assignment by Los Angeles and granted his release last offseason.
Instead of fading away as some young stars have done before, Bellinger used a one-year “earn it” contract to his advantage in 2023 as the two-time All-Star hit .307 (career-high) while mashing 26 home runs, driving in 97 runs and posting a .525 slugging percentage with the Chicago Cubs.
At the age of 28, this is Bellinger’s big chance at cashing in on a long-term, lucrative contract–one that his super-agent in Scott Boras will surely look to extract from teams interested in a left-handed power bat that can play a solid center-field and first base.
While all eyes remain on Yoshinobu, the rest of the free agent market could quickly take shape once the talented right-hander picks his team.
Bellinger could be an intriguing option for San Francisco, especially if they miss out on Yamamoto and have more financial flexibility. The strikeout aspect of Bellinger’s game is unsettling, but the Silver Slugger award winner boasted a career-best 15.7% strikeout rate in 2023 (down from 27.3% in 2022).
The Giants have longed for a left-handed power bat (or any power bat, really) as they seek a 30-home run hitter for the first time since Barry Bonds hit 45 in 2004.
Bellinger could provide San Francisco with more center field depth behind Lee while manning one of the corner outfield spots and filling in at first base here and there.
Jim Bowden, former MLB GM and current writer for The Athletic, recently laid out his prediction for Bellinger’s contract:
$181 million over seven years ($25.8 million average annual value).
If the Giants land Yamamoto with a deal in the $250-300 million range, as many including Bowden have projected, it could change San Francisco’s plans for pursuing Bellinger.
Other teams desperate for outfield help like the Toronto Blue Jays and Bellinger’s most-recent team in the Cubs will also be aggressive in the bidding process once Yamamoto comes off of the board.
For now, we wait–but the signing of Lee, interest in Yamamoto, and continued monitoring of Bellinger makes it clear that Zaidi is looking to make a splash this offseason.
SF Giants Schedule
- February 13-15th – Pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training workouts
- February TBD – Full squad workouts
- Saturday, February 24th – Spring Training opener vs. Chicago Cubs
- Thursday, March 28th-Sunday, March 31st – @ San Diego Padres
- Monday, April 1st-Wednesday, April 3rd – @ Los Angeles Dodgers
- Friday, April 5th-Sunday, April 7th – vs. San Diego Padres