Position One: First Base
Players available (alphabetically):
There are a handful of options here. If the Cubs make a run and choose to keep both Candelario and Bellinger, I know a majority of Cubs’ fans would be on board with that choice. The problem with that is the dollars that would have to be allocated in order to make that happen and the fact that playing either at first base detrimentally impacts the value that they add as defensive fielders at their primary positions.
Josh Bell certainly doesn’t have a defensive position where he’d be considered an asset. He’s been a negative defensive WAR player every season he’s played and he’s carrying a whopping -9.0 career dWAR. That’s truly terrible. That being said, you’d be paying for the bat where he’s a career .259/.347/.451 hitter with an average of 24 homers per 162 games played. That’s the kind of pop that the Cubs have been looking for from a corner infielder, but I’m not positive he’s the right fit.
CJ Cron would be the elder statesman from this group as he’ll be going into his age-34 season next year. He’s not as strong of a hitter as Bell, despite providing more power, but he’s also less of a defensive black hole at first base. He’s only had one positive dWAR season in his career but his -4.4 lifetime mark is significantly better than Bell’s -9.0. His average slash line is .260/.321/.473 with an average of 29 homers per 162 games played.
Rhys Hoskins is one of the more interesting names on this list. He’ll be one of the younger players entering his age-30 season and he’s got more pop than anyone else on the list as he’s had an average of 36 home runs per 162 games played with a .242/.353/.492 slash line. He’s somehow been the worst of all of the defenders at first base that we’ve looked at and the Phillies are unlikely to let him walk unless an overpay occurs, so I have Hoskins firmly as the least likely of all of the candidates.
Decision: Pay Bellinger what he wants. Sell Boras and Bellinger on the fact that he’ll limit his injury risk by playing primarily first base thanks to the existence of two locked-up outfielders and a top prospect in center field just one step from Wrigley. He just turned 28 so if it takes an eight-year, $225 million dollar contract, sign it.