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The Tuesday Discussion: Cody Bellinger...

February 27, 2024

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This week we asked our writers to respond to the following:


Cody Bellinger signed a three-year deal for only $80 million.  He has opt-outs after each of the first two years.  Should the Yankees have signed him for that contract?


Here are their replies:

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Lincoln Mitchell - If the Yankees had the chance to sign Bellinger to that contract, then they should have. There is no big downside because it is for, at most, three years. Moreover, because of Bellinger’s versatility, he would have been very valuable to the Yankees. Given Rizzo and Stanton’s age and health statuses and well as Dominguez’s unproven status, it is almost certain that the Yankees will need help at CF, 1B, or DH this year. Belllinger could have provided that boost.

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James Vlietstra - To me, In a vacuum, Bellinger may have been a great fit, especially as a lefty slugger at Yankees Stadium. However, after the offseason moves, they already have a surplus of outfielders and LeMahieu will be Rizzo’s primary backup at first and even if Stanton plays the field, Soto and Verdugo will still be in the lineup. They just were not in the market for him. Now, if Bauer or Snell were available at a similar contract, they could probably use another starter. 

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Paul Semendinger - I stand by everything I wrote in this article published back in December. I do not believe Aaron Judge should be playing centerfield. The Yankees need a back-up first baseman. Jasson Dominguez is unproven and he's coming off major surgery.


In the referenced article, I wrote, "And, I do not think Cody Bellinger will cost as much as many believe he will. First, his market seems soft. The original projections I read of a 12-year deal seem way off the mark. The Yankees just might be able to get Bellinger for four or five years - which would be ideal. Assuming Bellinger might command $25 million annually, let's take a look at how the Yankees can offset that cost.."


According to ESPN, the other day, Aaron Judge said regarding his toe, "to be I think a constant maintenance I think the rest of my career," Judge said Tuesday. "Anything with injuries like that, you just got to stay on top of it so it doesn't flare up again."


Aaron Judge is the most important player on the Yankees. If he gets injured, or wears down, the Yankees are in trouble, big time. He's also signed for a million more years. Cody Bellinger could have helped the Yankees mitigate the risks to Aaron Judge while providing amazing versatility and lengthening the lineup.


It's a big miss by the Yankees.

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Andy Singer - I am really on the fence on this one.  If Bellinger produces at a level that's even 85% of what he did in 2023, then this contract is a no-brainer.  If that's what you think Bellinger is going forward, this contract is a severe underpay for one of the best centerfielders in the sport.


On the other hand, if you believe that there was a lot of luck in last season's underlying numbers, then this contract would give you significant pause.  If Bellinger regresses significantly, you'd be stuck with him for another two years, in all likelihood, while paying a significant tax for his services.  This is the Yankees, they could certainly afford the risk regardless of what anyone in the media is talking about, but how big of a risk is Bellinger?  In my mind, he's a significant risk.


Lastly, there is no telling whether he would have signed with New York on a deal like this.  He already knew the Cubs and their clubhouse.  This was likely a deal that was cut understanding that there is significant familiarity and comfort for both sides.


I wouldn't be upset if the Yankees made a deal with Bellinger like this, but I lean towards "no."

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Cary Greene - For the Yankees to sign Cody Bellinger to a similar short term, high AAV deal containing opt outs would have cost the Yankees double for this season - instead of paying $30 million like the Cubs did, the Yankees would have had to pay a $30 million CBT hit on top of what the Cubs paid. Cody Bellinger is NOT worth $60 million for the coming season. In fact, for a player like Bellinger, who is projected to regress from what he did last season, I don't even think he's worth $20 million. 


When the offseason started, I wanted the Yankees to go after Bellinger, but I when the trade for Juan Soto expanded to include Trent Grisham, I think Cashman wisely pulled the trigger. I'm on record for liking the deal with the Padres and the moment it went down, Cody Bellinger likely fell off the Yankees radar. Is Bellinger beter than Grisham? Yes, absolutely but there is this thing called a budget to consider. Given that the Bombers have the highest payroll in baseball, there is a point where adding pricey free agents is a bad business decision. 


There exists a number of exciting Yankees prospects who are knocking at the door and I'm in favor of turning to them in order to fill in any roster gaps for the coming season. I'm not overjoyed with the Yankees starting rotation, nor am I fully in support of starting Aaron Judge in center field. I think Judge would be better utilized playing left field at Yankee stadium and right field in other ball parks that have more real estate in right field. However, the roster has been set and I for one am thankful that three durable outfielders, each of whom bats left-handed, have been added to the team. 


Paying double is something the Yankees have had to consider regarding signing any of the free agents whose markets have caused them to remain unsigned, lingering into the start of Spring Training. I don't think it made any sense at all to sign Bellinger, yet due to the importance of starting pitching, I think the Yankees should be looking to upgrade their rotation, perhaps through a trade rather than via free agency. I'm also okay with making certain Yankees prospects untouchable, such as Spencer Jones or Anthony Volpe or even Jasson Dominguez for that matter. Good starting pitchers are expensive to trade for, so Cashman will need to work any and all angles as the season gets underway. Perhaps the Trade Deadline will present an opportunity for the Yankees to make any upgrades they feel they need to make. I doubt the Yankees have any big moves left to make. 

55 Comments


Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Feb 27

This is not Bellinger related, but it IS related to his agent Scott Boras. New reports have "leaked out" that a new offer from the Yankees for Blake Snell is "on the table" and that the "two sides are talking but are far apart". Now, reports surface that this is all a bunch of bologna. Now, I am reading that Snell’s agent Scott Boras, or his camp, is likely drastically overstating the Yankees’ interest to drive up the price with the two teams most motivated to sign the lefthander — the Giants and Angels.

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Feb 27
Replying to

Definitely not a shock to me. You are right, I am sure it has been going on for decades. It's just a shameful tactic by a very aggressive player agent.

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Feb 27

One of the selling points of the possibility of signing Bellinger was to have him as a backup First Baseman, and ultimately, a replacement for Anthony Rizzo once Rizzo's contract expires. That being the case, what about Aaron Judge being trained to be a First Baseman? Maybe Judge (with the proper training from his buddy Rizzo or from another instructor like a retired player who has experience playing there) can back up Rizzo, and ultimately take over for him once Rizzo's contract is up. Playing 1B would reduce wear and tear on Judge, especially his toe, which he said "will require maintenance" the rest of his career. Judge is athletic, and being the big guy that he is, he …

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Feb 27
Replying to

One thing people tend to overlook, a story the "numbers, analytics, and stats" never tell, is the effect a "change of scenery" will have on the performance of a player. Part of it is a different fan base (who is a LOT more into baseball than the San Diego fan base is!), part of it is the "winning mentality" and the higher expectation of winning (World Championship, the only acceptable outcome), and another big part of it is different (in Grisham's case) hitting coaches with different hitting philosophies. That's why we have seen players get better as soon as they leave the Yankees, and on the other side of the coin, we have seen players get better after JOINING t…

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Cary Greene
Cary Greene
Feb 27

Bellinger's .370 wOBA should have been 43 points lower last season (.327), based on the results of his contact and per his xwOBA. There is almost zero chance he does as well this season as he did last year. This means he's not worth $60+ million folks.


If you could sell me on the idea that he'll replicate his 2019 season, then wow. He'd perform up to a $60 million payout. But he's far removed from being that kind of player. Five years ago, he was a superstar. These days, he's not even close to where he once was. Think of it this way, the kindest projection for 2024 Bellinger is from STEAMERS, they're calling for him to post a…


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Cary Greene
Cary Greene
Feb 27

I'll say it again....,"there is this thing called a budget." Bellinger is 1000% NOT WORTH $60+ million for this season. The Yankees already have the highest payroll in MLB. They have Trent Grisham and Aaron Judge to cover CF this season. They have Dominguez and Jones and Pereira all on the way. All of these expectations that Bellinger should have been signed this offseason are way out of whack with reality.


"IF" Stanton could have been dumped, with some foolish GM taking on ALL or MOST of his contract, then sure. Sign Snell. Sign whomever. Cashman failed to offload payroll this offseason, so he really can't justify not having to pay double for a free agent dut to the CBT.


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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Feb 28
Replying to

Fair points, but, as I have also said, the Yankees' brand is winning. Take that out of the equation and they're just another team. They sell their fanbase on this idea that winning is what matters most.


And they haven't won in a long time.

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Feb 27

I agree with Cary here.

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