Bob Nightengale reported today in his Sunday notebook for USA Today that the San Diego Padres are expected to be one of the “most aggressive suitors” for Cody Bellinger. The 28-year-old is having a dream season before free agency, as he’s hitting .319 with over 20 home runs and an OPS north of .900.
He signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs last offseason hoping to prove that he deserves a long-term deal and it looks like he’s done just that. The other serious suitors for Bellinger’s services, according to Nightengale, are expected to be Chicago, the San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees.
The Padres would be smart to look for a power hitting outfielder in the offseason but if Bellinger is going to command over $200 million (and maybe even $300 million according to Nightengale), is that the best use of their financial resources? It’s worthy to note Bellinger hit .203 with a 76 OPS+ in his last three seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Juan Soto is going to be entering his walk year so that would be hundreds of millions of dollars that Peter Seidler wouldn’t be able to offer Soto, who I think we can all agree is a better talent than Bellinger.
Ha-Seong Kim is also going to be a free agent after 2024 and will be commanding less than Bellinger so perhaps the Padres would rather extend him and then figure out what they want to do with Xander Bogaerts, Jake Cronenworth and Jackson Merrill later.
Trent Grisham has disappointed offensively again this season but he continues to show how valuable he is defensively in center field. If the big guys in the lineup perform better next season, Grisham not doing much at the plate at the bottom of the order won’t be as big of a deal.
Someone in San Diego’s front office would be making a good point if they bring up the possibility of Fernando Tatis Jr. sliding over to center field and then bringing in a cheaper corner outfielder if the Padres want to go the route of having the best offensive potential in the outfield while spending money on other important areas of the roster.
It’ll be interesting to see what the front office decides to do in the offseason (it’s also sad we’re even talking about this on September 3 based on the expectations the current team had entering 2023).