With the Chicago Cubs in the thick of a playoff race and all the news to cover there, it's essential also to look ahead and understand how the Cubs can remain competitive moving forward. Unfortunately, the Cubs have pieces that have been vital to the team's success this season that still need to be guaranteed a contract for next year. You can check out all Cub's pending free agents here, including who has either a club or player option for 2024. Let's take a look at three players the Cubs must re-sign, either during the season or in free agency this winter.
3 free agents the Cubs should re-sign - 3. Cody Bellinger
Let's start with the most obvious. Cody Bellinger is not technically a free agent until he declines his option to test the market this offseason. Before this season started, there was never a chance that the Cubs thought that this current deal would manifest Bellinger playing for the team in 2024. The mutual option was put in place so the front office could part ways if he underperformed, but also allowed Bellinger the opportunity to test the market, should he have a bounce-back season.
Thankfully, the latter has come to fruition, with Bellinger's offensive production being a key reason the Cubs are eyeing a postseason berth. It will help you sleep at night to understand that Bellinger declining his option this coming winter by no means is a red flag that he doesn't want to stay in Chicago. He is simply looking for his payday, and he has earned it.
Even with missing over a month earlier in the season, he has a shot at being the first Cubs player since Javy Baez in 2018 to record a 100 RBI season. Bellinger is slashing .316/.358/.545 with 25 HRs and 90 RBIs, clearly putting him on pace for a 30/100 season if it went for injury early on.
Due to a couple of down seasons in a row before 2023, it's hard to envision a scenario where he demands much more than 6-7 years/200M, and if that's the case, the Cubs will match every offer that other teams make. The front office did not come this far after signing Seiya Suzuki, Dansby Swanson, extending Nico Hoerner, and Ian Happ to turn around and not pony up for the best player on the team.