The Cincinnati Reds grabbed their impact bat earlier this offseason when they signed Jeimer Candelario to a three-year contract shortly after the MLB Winter Meetings wrapped up.
While it's still December, and there's a lot of offseason left, several of the best hitters on the open market are beginning to picked off one-by-one. In addition to Candelario, Shohei Ohtani, Jung-Hoo Lee, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. have signed new deals.
But heading into the offseason, there was Ohtani, a massive gap, and then Cody Bellinger. Reports have emerged that Bellinger is seeking a $200-million contract, and according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, his former team is not the favorite to secure his services.
Cody Bellinger is the most coveted bat left in free agency
The Toronto Blue Jays, not the Chicago Cubs, are the favorites to sign Cody Bellinger in free agency. After falling short in their pursuit of Shohei Ohtani, the Blue Jays appear to be all-in on the former NL Rookie of the Year.
Bellinger signed a one-year prove-it deal with the Cubs last offseason and had his best season since he was the NL MVP in 2019. The left-handed hitting slugger slashed .307/.356/.525 with 26 homers and 96 RBI.
If the Cubs, one of the Cincinnati Reds' biggest division rivals, are unable to retain their top free agent, the North Siders will suddenly become quite desperate.
The St. Louis Cardinals took an expedited approach to the offseason by siging three starting pitchers almost as soon as free agency began. The Reds have added Jeimer Candelario and two pitchers (Emilio Pagán and Nick Martinez) already this offseason and are still searching for more upgrades.
The Milwaukee Brewers are in a bit of limbo as they ponder their next move, while the Pittsburgh Pirates have at least dipped their toe into free agency this winter.
The Chicago Cubs, on the other hand, have done nothing. The Cubs were in on Shohei Ohtani but came up empty. Chicago was in the mix to trade for Tyler Glasnow, but fell short. Now it appears as though the Cubbies have fallen behind in the chase to re-sign Cody Bellinger.
This has been a very slow start to the offseason for Cubs. There's still plenty of time left for Chicago to make a big splash, but to date, it seems as though Jed Hoyer has been sitting on his hands.