Chicago Cubs News: Cody Bellinger's resurgence is better than Jason Heyward's
Over the offseason, the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers unintentionally swapped a couple of veteran outfielders in Jason Heyward and Cody Bellinger. Both men had spent several years with their ball clubs and had a long stretch of offensive struggles that led them on a path to their new teams. Many have pointed out that Jason Heyward seems to be showing new signs of life with the latest iteration of his swing, but the fact is Cody Bellinger's season has been much more impressive so far.
When it comes to defense, both men play at a gold glove level and they both have won the award in the past (Bellinger in 2019 and Heyward in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017). Both have strong throwing arms, bat left-handed, can play all outfield positions and are excellent baserunners but I'd give the baserunning edge to Bellinger since he is 6 years younger (27) than Heyward (33). So Bellinger and Heyward are actually pretty similar in a lot of ways, including their recent offensive comebacks. The difference is Bellinger has put up much more convincing numbers.
Heyward's opportunities are clearly more limited but that's because he is in a platoon situation with Trayce Thompson in center field. However, this is sort of a testament to the point where Heyward is in his career as he isn't good enough at the plate to play every day with a team like the Dodgers. He is producing enough to split at-bats, but his slash line is pretty ugly with very below-average marks in the on-base and slugging departments.
Bellinger was brought in to play center field every day whether his bat showed up or not. The Cubs paid him $17 million to play center field and he took the opportunity and put up one of the best months of his career in April. If he keeps playing at this level, the Cubs would be foolish to not consider giving Bellinger a long-term deal since he is still on the better side of 30 years old. Bellinger has also won an MVP award in the past along with a Rookie of the Year so the potential for the highest level of play is always there. His presence as a lefty power bat in this lineup has been essential and if he is around alongside Dansby Swanson long-term, then other elite players could be more willing to sign with Chicago.
All in all, I'd say Bellinger is winning this bragging rights war of the former outfielders. That isn't to say Heyward isn't having a decent career resurgence and more power to him. He's a great clubhouse guy that can help a team win with words alone and clearly a change of scenery has done him good. The Cubs are also still paying $22 million this year so maybe he's getting the last laugh.