MLB Rumors: Cody Bellinger market takes shape after Jung Hoo Lee deal

Cody Bellinger could cash in in free agency after the San Francisco Giants' deal with South Korean outfielder Jung Hoo Lee.

Apr 14, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Chicago Cubs center fielder Cody Bellinger (24) warms
Apr 14, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Cody Bellinger (24) warms / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB free agency market this winter hasn't moved as quickly as in previous years. That's mostly because teams and free agents were waiting to see where Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto would sign. Ohtani is already off the board, as he signed a 10-year, $700 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yamamoto, meanwhile, is still on the open market, where he is scheduled to meet with teams.

But on Tuesday, there was a bit of action at the top of the market, as South Korean star outfielder Jung Hoo Lee agreed to a deal with the San Francisco Giants. The contract is for six years, worth a total of $113 million, and contains an opt-out clause after four seasons. As it turns out, Lee was on the radar of a number of teams, and that may lead them to pivot to the next best outfielder available -- Cody Bellinger.

According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs, and San Diego Padres were all interested in Lee. Nightengale says that now, Bellinger is "squarely on those teams' radar," in addition to the Giants.

Cody Bellinger market heating up after Giants sign Jung Hoo Lee

The Padres, Cubs, and Blue Jays all need an outfielder, so it's not shocking that they were all interested in Lee. Even though the Giants signed Lee, they could stand to add Bellinger as well to double up on the outfield.

San Diego have voids in their outfield after they traded away Juan Soto and Trent Grisham to the New York Yankees in exchange for five players.

Speaking of Soto, the Blue Jays were speaking with the Padres about a potential trade. The team needs a center fielder, as Kevin Kiermaier is a free agent. Besides that, the Blue Jays are looking to add someone big, as they missed out on Ohtani this winter.

As for the Cubs, they failed to bring in a big name as of this writing despite the big splash after bringing in Craig Counsell as their manager from the rival Milwaukee Brewers. But, they could opt to retain Bellinger, who they signed to a one-year, prove-it deal last winter.

Bellinger had a true bounce-back year after a rough, injury-riddled final couple of seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 130 games, Bellinger recorded a .307 batting average, a .356 on-base percentage, a .525 on-base percentage, 26 home runs, 95 runs, 97 RBI, 153 hits, 87 strikeouts, and 40 walks in 499 at-bats.

With Lee signed and Soto traded to the Yankees, Bellinger could see his price tag increase this winter, especially if any of these teams want to bring him in badly enough.

MLB RUMORS. Goldschmidt STL future, Dodgers star chasing, Yamamoto long line. Goldschmidt STL future, Dodgers star chasing, Yamamoto long line. dark