3 Chicago Cubs scenarios where a Cody Bellinger extension makes sense
By Jake Misener
3 Chicago Cubs scenarios where a Cody Bellinger extension makes sense: #2 - Matt Mervis fails to adjust to MLB pitching by the end of 2023
Given how elite his defense is in center field, you can forgive any Cubs fans who aren't aware that Bellinger is more than capable of playing first base, as well. Knowing that is important when we look at a potential second avenue to an extension making sense for Chicago.
Last weekend, we got the highly-anticipated big league debut of first base prospect Matt Mervis. He's struggled in his first week, slashing just .190/.227/.190 - good for a 17 OPS+ (83 percent below being a league average hitter). Still, it's been just that - a week - and there's no reason to write him off given how seamlessly he dissected every level of the minors in the last two years.
But let's say it's August and Mervis still isn't hitting. Are you then accepting Trey Mancini as your everyday first baseman heading into 2024? (This also assumes the Eric Hosmer experiment will have reached its end by this point; because if it hasn't and he starts next year as the starting first baseman, we've got a problem).
No. The Cubs' window, in all likelihood, really opens up in the next two years. Locking up Bellinger to be your everyday first baseman/DH and keeping his powerful bat in the lineup, while handing center field duties to someone like Crow-Armstrong lengthens this lineup dramatically, without sacrificing the top-shelf defense in the outfield.