Chicago Cubs News: Carter Hawkins does not rule out Cody Bellinger extension
Cody Bellinger has been one of the biggest surprises so far for the Chicago Cubs during the 2023 Major League Baseball regular season and that has led to questions regarding what his future with the team may look like.
Bellinger signed a one-year deal with the Cubs this past off-season that included a mutual option for 2024 as a way for the Cubs to manipulate the luxury tax payroll. At the time of the signing, the expectation was that Bellinger would be a one-year stopgap in center field for the Cubs while top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong makes his ascension through the team's minor league system.
The Cubs may not have been counting on Bellinger returning to a near-MVP form. Through 145 plate appearances this season, Bellinger is slashing .291/.366/.543 with an outstanding 143 wRC+ and .385 wOBA. The power has also been present for Bellinger as he has seven home runs on the season.
Bellinger's hot start has led many Cubs fans to begin to question if there is a path where the team signs Bellinger to a long-term extension. Cubs' general manager Carter Hawkins was asked that question during an interview with "The Mully and Haugh Show" on 670 The Score on Wednesday morning.
"“If you asked me, ‘Hey, do you want a plus defensive center fielder that can hit both righties and lefties with some power and is great in the clubhouse?’ Like, yeah, I’ll take that,” Hawkins said. “So, we’re really excited about having him be here and would love to find a way to have him here for a long time. When there’s an appropriate time to have those conversations, we’ll have them.”"- Carter Hawkins via 670 The Score
Before there are any legitimate discussions surrounding a potential contract extension between Bellinger and the Cubs, the right move is the kick the can down the road in the way that Hawkins did. There is no reason for the Cubs to consider an extension at this point in time as the start from Bellinger will need to prove to be sustainable for the entire season.
If Bellinger truly is back, then the Cubs may be forced to make a Bellinger extension work with their long-term blueprint for the organization. Bellinger, in his truest form, is an MVP-caliber offensive player that can also play Gold Glove-caliber defense in the outfield. That is not the type of talent that the team lets leave regardless of how their prospects are aligned.