Before joining the Cubs last season, Cody Bellinger had interest from this NL Central foe

Who knows what might have happened had the former MVP and Craig Counsell started working together prior to this spring?

2024 Chicago Cubs Spring Training
2024 Chicago Cubs Spring Training / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages

Last season's one-year prove-it contract between the Chicago Cubs and Cody Bellinger worked out about as well as anyone could have hoped, especially for the team. They got a resurgent, dynamic talent in the heart of the lineup, capable of playing multiple positions at an elite level - not to mention a great clubhouse presence.

Now, I'm sure if you ask Bellinger or his agent Scott Boras, whose offseason drubbing finally drew to an end when the last of his high-profile clients, Jordan Montgomery, settled for a 1-year, $25 million deal with a vesting option for 2025, the preferred end result would have been different.

The Milwaukee Brewers had interest in Cody Bellinger before he signed with the Chicago Cubs prior to the 2023 season

Bellinger was unable to find that long-term contract, eventually returning to the Cubs on a three-year, $85 million deal that contains opt-outs after both the first and second year. That means the reigning NL Comeback Player of the year will play under first-year Cubs manager Craig Counsell for the first time. Surprisingly, this was something both men acknowledged was a possibility in Milwaukee before Bellinger came to Chicago prior to the 2023 season.

“As a manager, I was very interested in adding Cody Bellinger last year,” Counsell said. “But I think I’d be speaking out of turn to know how serious (that was).”

As for Bellinger, he said it 'was a possibility' at the time - a harrowing thought for Cubs fans. Even without him, the Brewers won their third NL Central title in the last six years, with Chicago narrowly missing out on the postseason, thanks to a late September collapse.

Who knows what Bellinger in that Brewers lineup may have resulted in. What I'd really want to know, then, is if Counsell still ends up coming to the Cubs and re-setting the market for managerial salaries in baseball. Would more investment from the Milwaukee front office, bringing in a guy like Bellinger, have changed his mind about leaving? Who knows.

Counsell is one of the best minds in the game when it comes to playing matchups and getting the most out of the 26 guys on the roster. There's hope he can help Bellinger replicate his 2023 showing, when he posted an .881 OPS, his highest single-season mark since his 2019 MVP campaign. Thankfully, we'll never have to find out what this combination of player and manager might have looked like in Milwaukee because the mere thought of it is quite enough.