The Toronto Blue Jays, still reeling after losing out in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, could zero in on another target who would fill an obvious need. Speculation that the team could be in talks with free agent Cody Bellinger has been rampant after Chase Carter, Bellinger’s fiancée, posted an image of the famous Toronto skyline to her Instagram story on Sunday.
As exciting as this potential union is, Jays fans should know not to get overexcited. On Friday afternoon, it looked like the team was closing in on the biggest acquisition in sports history. The following day, the news broke that Ohtani was signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and an entire nation groaned.
Bellinger is an ideal match and is a player linked to the Blue Jays for years. He’s hitting the open market as a 28-year-old and coming off a resurgent 2023 season that boosted his value. The 2019 NL MVP slashed .307/.356/.881, with 26 home runs, 97 RBI, and 95 runs scored. Bellinger achieved a 4.4 bWAR (second-highest of his career), won his second Silver Slugger Award, and finished top-10 in MVP voting for the third time.
Toronto has a dire need in the outfield, and Bellinger has been an above-average defender throughout his career, primarily as a center fielder. He also started 44 games at first base last season, the position he played most often from 2017-2018. The 2017 NL Rookie of the Year would be an athletic option wherever he’s asked to play and would surely be part of the DH shuffle, along with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., George Springer, and Danny Jansen.
The conundrum of whether to play Bellinger in center or right field is a 'problem' manager John Schneider would love to have. Daulton Varsho is poised to receive the brunt of the work in center field, but Bellinger is an elite-level defender.
He’d also slot in perfectly into the Blue Jays lineup, likely hitting in the number two or three position while providing protection and left-handed power. Bellinger has done remarkably well to get himself back to the player we saw four years ago. He’s not Shohei Ohtani, but he is the kind of player Jays fans can get excited about, provided he puts pen to paper.