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Ricketts: Cubs, Bellinger have talked, but 'it hasn't become a negotiation'

Quinn Harris / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Cody Bellinger is still looking for a home, and the Chicago Cubs are still interested in bringing him back. But talks between the sides have yet to gain any serious traction.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts seemed to blame Bellinger's agent, Scott Boras, for stalling negotiations.

"There has been some discussions (with Bellinger's camp), but it hasn't become a negotiation yet," Ricketts said Monday, according to ESPN's Jesse Rogers. "Until they are ready to negotiate, there's not much we can do. We just have to wait for when it gets serious before talking about what the end money amounts are."

Ricketts added that he hasn't talked directly to Boras this offseason, preferring to leave those duties to general manager Carter Hawkins and president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer. Boras, however, said owners should be involved in talks.

"It's the normal owner's signature move to be involved in the efforts of recruiting players and reaching out to me so I can convey to the player the ownership of the team covets them," Boras told Rogers. "That is the essence of free agency, and it is a custom and practice for ownership to express commitment and involvement.

"When Cody was a free agent last year, the Cubs engaged and were very aggressive in their pursuit. And their process is no different this year. So I am not clear as to what Tom is suggesting."

Bellinger was named NL Comeback Player of the Year after rediscovering his MVP form last summer, his first year with the Cubs. The 28-year-old hit .307/.356/.525 with 26 homers, 97 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases in 130 games, claimed his second career Silver Slugger, and quickly opted out of the second year of his contract.

Despite being one of the top free-agent position players this winter, Bellinger's been languishing on the market all winter alongside fellow star Boras clients Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery. In December, reports said teams were balking at Bellinger's supposed asking price of over $200 million.

It's unclear if Boras and Bellinger will lower their asking price or consider a shorter-term deal and try again next winter. Whether the Cubs - who still need to fill the hole he left in center field - will still be among the teams pursuing him in the spring also remains to be seen.

"I'm like everyone else," Ricketts said. "We're just waiting. Waiting for whenever he and his agent are going to engage. It could be any time now or it could be in a few weeks. We'll see where it goes."

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