Could Yankees sign former MVP center fielder in surprise move?

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Atlanta Braves, cody bellinger, yankees
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have significantly revamped their outfield this off-season, acquiring Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo, and Trent Grisham. These strategic additions promise to transform the Yankees’ outfield, offering a fresh and potent dynamic for the 2024 season and beyond.

Potential Additional Moves: Cody Bellinger Speculation

While the Yankees have already made substantial changes, some baseball executives speculate that they might have another surprise in store. Rumors have emerged, notably from Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, suggesting the Yankees could be contenders for signing former MVP Cody Bellinger. Despite the recent acquisitions, the possibility of adding Bellinger, who is only 28 years old and coming off a strong season with the Chicago Cubs, is intriguing.

Bellinger’s 2023 performance with the Cubs was impressive, boasting a .307/.356/.525 batting line with 26 home runs, 97 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases. His reduced strikeout rate to 15.6% and a 134 wRC+ indicate a notable upswing in his offensive capabilities.

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Evaluating Bellinger’s Fit and Yankees’ Priorities

Despite his recent success, Bellinger’s market value has been tempered by concerns over potential regression. His past four seasons have been inconsistent, and his slugging metrics, including a career-low hard-hit rate and barrel rate, suggest some elements of fortune in his performance.

Bellinger also brings considerable defensive value, able to play multiple outfield positions and first base proficiently. This versatility could be beneficial for the Yankees, especially with Anthony Rizzo’s contract ending after the upcoming season, presenting an opportunity for Bellinger to transition to first base if needed.

However, General Manager Brian Cashman faces a dilemma. While Bellinger would be a significant investment, the Yankees have a more pressing need for pitching. Prioritizing need over luxury, Cashman might prefer to allocate resources towards pitching, potentially targeting a player like Blake Snell — although, he wants a 9-year, $270 million deal.

Furthermore, the acquisition of another outfield bat like Bellinger would likely necessitate trading Verdugo, a move that could be perplexing given the recent outfield restructuring.

In summary, while the Yankees have transformed their outfield with high-profile acquisitions, the possibility of adding Bellinger remains a topic of speculation. The team must balance its offensive firepower with pitching needs and financial considerations as they prepare for a competitive 2024 season.