Saturday, April 20, 2024

Cody Bellinger Plays Huge Role In Cubs’ Future

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Good Morning, Chicago. It is February 25th, and the Chicago Cubs have signed Cody Bellinger to a three-year deal worth up to $80 million. The contract includes opt-outs after the first two $30 million years. Bellinger returns to the Cubs in hopes of continuing on their path of competing for a playoff spot in 2024 (and hopefully beyond that).

After a standoff that lasted months between Cubs’ leadership and Bellinger’s representative, Scott Boras, the two sides finally came together and got a deal done. This is the first time one of Boras’ clients signed a multi-year contract in Chicago in over a decade. Whether that’s because of Boras’ sour relationship with Cubs’ majority owner Tom Ricketts or not, we can only assume. It wasn’t quite the dramatic Dexter Fowler return, but we did get a 1 am tweet from Jeff Passan.

With Bellinger back, the Cubs will now make some changes to the plan they had set forth. During the first spring training broadcast, General Manager Carter Hawkins said they planned for Michael Busch to be the Opening Day starter at first base. He also mentioned his belief in center fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong and believes he will be a start in Chicago for a long time.

Bellinger will be in the Cubs’ lineup on a nightly basis one way or another. With the Cubs being as confident as they were in what they already had, they will have to shift some of their plans around, for good reason. They’re bringing back the reigning MLB Comeback Player of the Year.

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Bellinger’s Role At First Base

Cody Bellinger can play center field at a top level in the league. But if things go as well as possible for the Cubs this spring, he will be their primary option at first base. The Cubs have not had an everyday first baseman since Anthony Rizzo left in 2021. With Bellinger back, presumably long-term, that narrative could change.

With that, the Cubs will have to shift their plans for Michael Busch. The competition just got a little more crowded at third base. Cubs Manager Craig Counsell said they would like Christopher Morel to be the Opening Day starter at the hot corner. He’s been working on his defense there all offseason. But Nick Madrigal and now Busch will want to have a say in that decision.

This move will also impact Patrick Wisdom. He has been practicing at both corners of the infield so far this spring. If the Cubs want to keep his bat in the lineup consistently alongside the young talent they have, it will probably be as the designated hitter. But he has proven himself a major leaguer and will still be around come Opening Day.

Bellinger’s Influence On Pete Crow-Armstrong

With Cody Bellinger back, PCA will have to have himself a spring to prove he can be the everyday center fielder. He ripped through the minors, punishing opposing pitching with AA Tennessee and flashing his glove in AAA Iowa. After being called up in September 2023, he was primarily a defensive replacement or a pinch runner. He was not getting consistent at-bats and is currently 0-19.

PCA has the opportunity now to claim center fielder as his own, a position Bellinger won a Gold Glove and Rookie of the Year. Bellinger is just 28 years old but a veteran in the league. He has been through just about the highest of highs and lowest of lows this game has to offer. He’s experienced a championship, a punishing and underperforming season, and having to sign a “prove it” one-year contract.

The experience Bellinger has had in the league is something PCA can benefit significantly by latching onto Bellinger and learning to be a major league superstar. Bellinger is a mature, likable leader in the clubhouse. His influence on this team catapults them into a contender, and PCA would be wise to listen to and learn from what he has to say. If PCA lets this opportunity pass him, it will make the Cubs’ job of decision-making a lot easier.

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blockwood9
blockwood9
Feb 25, 2024 3:54 pm

Well done Cubs! Both sides win with this deal!

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