Cubs News: It's time to bring back Cody Bellinger
Kayla Wolf - USA Today Sports

Cubs News: It's time to bring back Cody Bellinger

by - Staff Writer -

As Cody Bellinger looms longer and longer through free agency on the open market, it appears more and more apparent that the Cubs need to sign Cody Bellinger to make this offseason a success.

Bellinger is coming off a resurgent year, in which he took home Comeback Player of the Year and Silver Slugger honors. Bellinger hit .307 with 26 home runs and 97 RBIs in his only season in Chicago and has earned himself a hefty contract. One that I believe the Cubs should pay.

There is no guarantee he will perform that way again, and there are some obvious injury risks, but the Cubs need a left-handed bat that can hit for power, and there is no better option on the market right now than Cody Bellinger. Brandon Belt remains on the market and fits the DH/1B mold the Cubs appear to be targeting, but I don’t think any Cub fan would be happy if Brandon Belt is your big offensive addition of the offseason. Belt had just 43 RBI and hit .254 in 2023 — not to mention he will be entering his age-36 season.

There still are other avenues to improve. Matt Chapman is an upgrade both offensively and defensively at the third base position compared to Nick Madrigal and Patrick Wisdom. Chapman has four Gold Gloves, including this last season, and is usually suitable for between 20 and 30 HRS. Jorge Soler and JD Martinez would provide a nice boost via the DH position as the Cubs are looking to add slug, and both sluggers hit over 33 home runs in 2023. If the Cubs elect to upgrade via trade, All-Stars Pete Alonso or Randy Arozarena would be welcomed additions to the Cubs as there has been rumored interest.

However, these alternate routes require a few moves to be made or dominos to fall. The Cubs can no longer fall back on their pivot option of Rhys Hoskins, as he has signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. Bellinger is more of a necessity now than he might have been a month or two ago.

Many around the industry agree that acquiring Craig Counsell as the Cubs manager gives them an upgrade that will be seen in the “W” column. If the Cubs were an 83-win team last year, all things being the same, Counsell makes them roughly a 90-win team. However, if that is the mindset that Jed Hoyer is operating on this offseason, that is not good enough to be a contender.

Take that 90-win hypothetical team and subtract Bellinger, now you’re roughly an 85 win team that is right on the brink of a playoff spot. The Arizona Diamondbacks reminded all of baseball that all you need to do is get in the playoffs. Still, an 85-win season being your goal or your ceiling is not good enough for a big-market team with significant market resources and forces its fans to pay big-market money to watch them play.

I’ll go further: I don’t think acquiring Bellinger is enough to make the Cubs a true contender. I think they are a playoff team with him, but they may need an additional bat to be a contender (whether that comes from Michael Busch or Pete Crow-Armstrong or outside of the organization remains to be seen).

The point remains.

Improving offensively in 2024 without having Cody Bellinger on your roster appears to be an uphill battle. The Cubs have made some nice moves this Winter, but as far as the rest of the offseason goes, it is Bellinger or Bust.

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