Now for one of the biggest names this offseason. Cody Bellinger was once the darling of the league. He came onto the scene in 2017 and won the Rookie of the Year award that year. Bellinger then exploded in 2019 for the Dodgers, winning the MVP that year. He has 5 seasons with an OPS+ of 112 or greater, he has 4 seasons with an OPS of .814 or higher, and he often finds himself near the top of the home run leaderboard for outfielders.
The most interesting part about Bellinger, however, would be his 2021 and 2022 seasons. He was a far below-replacement-level player in those years on the offensive side of the ball. He battled injuries in both seasons and had a batting average of only .165 in 2021 and .210 in 2022. The entire league was floored by those two seasons, and his free-agency bidding was interesting last offseason. The Cubs took a flyer on him and signed him to a 1-year, $17.5 million deal with a mutual option for 2024.
Bellinger rewarded the Cubs handsomely by having a slash line of .307/.356/.525 in 2023 for an OPS+ of 133. He carried the Cubs offense this past year, and Bellinger will surely decline his end of the mutual option for 2024. Cody can play center field very well, has played in the corner outfield before, and he can also be featured at first base. His defensive flexibility would allow the Cardinals to trade from their depth, similar to the situation if they signed either Harrison Bader or Kevin Kiermaier. Additionally, Bellinger would be able to fill in at first for Paul Goldschmidt on his days off or the days when he is the designated hitter. Bellinger was also a very strong hitter with runners in scoring position with a .263/.362/.475 slash line.
Signing Bellinger would cost the team a lot of money. The 28-year-old outfielder will probably demand a multi-year contract nearly 8-10 years in length. He would also cost quite a bit of money, easily surpassing the $20 million AAV contract that Brandon Nimmo signed this past offseason with the Mets. If the front office wants to beef up its lineup offensively and defensively, Cody Bellinger would be the ideal candidate. They can then trade from their depth to get a front-end starter, and the Cardinals can sign another pitcher from the mid-tier list this offseason with any leftover money.