Cody Bellinger collected 5 RBI in the Chicago Cubs' 10-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates and it was more confirmation that Bellinger is the anchor of the team's offense.
It was another reminder of how much of a priority Bellinger should be for the Cubs this off-season.
The Cubs have arrived, albeit a year early, and if the team is going to make the jump from good to great this winter, signing Bellinger to a long-term contract must be among the first items on their to-do list.
Bellinger, with his return to MVP form this season with the Cubs, is going to be at the top of the free agent class this off-season, and the early entries into his market are beginning to be known. Bob Nightengale of USA Today provided an early update on the teams that will be interested in Bellinger.
"The Cubs, who entered Saturday clinging to the final wild-card spot, and five games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central, certainly plan to be in the bidding to retain Bellinger. The Giants, who have been trying for years to lure a big star to San Francisco, figure to offer him the most money. The Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees could be jumping in, too. "- USA Today
The Giants were left holding the bag this past off-season after missing on Aaron Judge and pulling out of their deal with shortstop Carlos Correa.
It was a bad look for the Giants and there is no doubt that the team will be willing to throw money at any top free agent this winter. Their initial sights may be on Shohei Ohtani but his recent injury likely will have some teams shift their focus to Bellinger.
The Yankees likely will be the Cubs' biggest competition for Bellinger. The Yankees were willing to part with their No. 2 prospect, outfielder Jasson Dominguez, at the deadline for two months of Bellinger so there is no doubt that there will be no price they don't match in free agency for the outfielder's services.
Cubs fans shouldn't expect Bellinger to sign quickly but it is imperative that the team remains on top of his market as losing him would dramatically alter the Cubs' plan moving forward.