Cody Bellinger, Juan Soto, and Pete Alonso have been the early names on the Chicago Cubs rumor mill as the team is expected to address their need for offense this off-season.
This should serve as a reminder that while the Cubs did have offensive success during the 2023 season, they still were a one-dimensional team in the sense that they lacked power and were depending on finding holes as opposed to hitting the ball over the fence.
That was the weakness of a Cubs' team that had Bellinger as their biggest offensive contributor. That is not a given for the 2024 season. Bellinger is a free agent this winter and the belief is that if he does return to the Cubs, it will be due to the fact that he signed the largest free-agent deal in franchise history,
For the most part, the scouts that Sahadev Sharma talked to for his latest piece for The Athletic backed the idea that the success that Bellinger had last season is sustainable and that the Cubs should want to keep him around for the long term.
But, perhaps the biggest takeaway from the scouts that Sharma talked to is that Bellinger shouldn't be the sole focus of the off-season.
"“I think the Cubs are a team that has the financial might to where they ought to sign Bellinger and then trade for one of those guys,” Scout D said. “That’s their competitive advantage. They haven’t been willing to flex it as much lately. They have dollars to spend, they have prospects. Acquire these guys, pay them and build a really strong team.”"- The Athletic
The Cubs are reaching the point where they need not only be swimming in the deep end of the free-agent waters but they should find success in doing so. This off-season should not be viewed as a success if the only move consequence that the team made was bringing Bellinger back on a long-term deal.
"“I would consider signing Bellinger and trading for Alonso without giving him an extension,” Scout B said. “Now you lengthen your lineup considerably and you have more power throughout that lineup. We’ve seen it all in the playoffs the last several seasons. If you’re going to win, it’s really hard to get three, four hits in an inning to score. A lot of these teams are winning because they can hit the ball out of the ballpark.”"- The Athletic
With Soto and Alonso each expected to reach free agency at the end of the 2024 season, there is an expectation that any team that trades for either player this off-season will have an increased advantage of signing either player to a long-term deal. Regardless of how true that may be, the Cubs should be directly involved in trade conversations for both Soto and Alonso with the goal of landing one of them.