Yankees linked to former MVP at trade deadline…again

chicago cubs, yankees, cody bellinger
Apr 21, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Cody Bellinger (24) looks at the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout after hitting a home run during the third inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

To enhance their World Series prospects this year, the New York Yankees must make a decisive, championship-worthy move at the trade deadline. This could involve a grand trade for Juan Soto or acquiring a few quality contributors to boost their offense.

Regardless of the path taken, general manager Brian Cashman has several options to bolster the team’s lineup.

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Yankees’ Rumored Interest in Cody Bellinger

In the world of baseball, where there’s smoke, there’s often fire. Over the past few months, the Yankees have been consistently associated with former MVP and left-handed power hitter Cody Bellinger.

Bellinger, 27, is enjoying a resurgence season after two lackluster years with the Los Angeles Dodgers. After signing a contract with the Chicago Cubs this past off-season, Bellinger has put up impressive numbers— a .284 batting average, .341 OBP, seven home runs, 25 RBIs, and ten stolen bases.

Additionally, he boasts an 18.3% strikeout rate, a 7.9% walk rate, and a .456 slugging percentage, his highest since the 2019 season. His 112 wRC+ and 1.4 WAR highlight the offensive prowess that we’ve come to expect from him.

“Cody’s always been my comeback player of the year,” Bellinger’s agent Scott Boras recently told The Athletic. “But come back to what? This isn’t coming back to earth. It’s coming back to the clouds. Cody has a ceiling that most players don’t have. No doubt.”

Bellinger’s agent’s praise may seem excessive, but there’s a solid reason his lefty swing would fit well in Yankee Stadium, given the venue’s short right field.

Potential Long-Term Fit and Role in the Yankees

With a mutual option for the 2024 season at $17.5 million, the Yankees theoretically could retain Bellinger if they deem it beneficial. Known as an above-average defender, Bellinger has only played 315.1 innings in left field. This hints at his potential to take over center field if Harrison Bader leaves in free agency or transitions full-time to left field.

“An MLB scout recently told NJ Advance Media that Bellinger could be a good fit in a Yankees’ lineup that struggled to consistently score runs even before 2022 AL MVP Aaron Judge was sidelined in June due to a toe injury,” further cements the rationale behind the Yankees’ interest.

Trading Terms: What Would the Cubs Want?

The lingering question is: what would the Chicago Cubs demand in return for Bellinger? The Cubs are currently third in the NL Central, five games below .500 and seven games behind the Cincinnati Reds in first place.

The reality is straightforward: the Cubs may be looking to sell, and the Yankees are perpetual buyers, always seeking ways to augment their contending chances.

The Yankees should not have to part with too much to acquire Bellinger and his contract, making this a feasible move for Cashman if he doesn’t find a more control-friendly option.

However, the team must tread carefully. Bellinger’s performance has been volatile, but he’s started July on a high note, presently in the midst of an 11-game hitting streak. In the last five games alone, he’s collected nine hits, batting .450 with a .455 OBP. The Yankees will hope to capitalize on this upward trajectory if they decide to bring Bellinger aboard.