Cody Bellinger's return changes the tune of the Chicago Cubs' off-season

The Chicago Cubs checked all the boxes they needed to this offseason. It wasn't as flashy as other teams, but the additions they made will get the job done in 2024 and beyond.

Chicago Cubs Introduce Craig Counsell as Manager
Chicago Cubs Introduce Craig Counsell as Manager / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages
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Cody Bellinger has officially returned to the Chicago Cubs on a three-year deal, which is likely the final move in what turned into a very solid offseason for the Cubs front office.

After the news broke, Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson sang the praises of the front office led by President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer and General Manager Carter Hawkins.

Rightfully so, because contrary to what some people on the internet may have to say, the Cubs made moves this offseason that could set them up to win for years to come. And that began with the first move of the winter, which was snagging possibly the best manager in baseball away from the division rival and 2023 NL Central champion Milwaukee Brewers.

Craig Counsell may transform the Cubs

The Cubs had a solid squad in 2023 that was on the cusp of making the playoffs. Although the team relied on a lot of young/inexperienced players - especially on the pitching side - there was clearly a winning culture in the clubhouse supported by veterans like Swanson, Bellinger, and Yan Gomes. But they didn't have enough to put them over the edge and make it into October and one could argue that certain decisions by former manager David Ross hurt the team in some areas.

There was clearly a lack of faith on Ross's part in Christopher Morel's ability to field at third base, which resulted in the 23-year-old becoming the team's primary designated hitter.
The trust Ross lacked in Morel and other young players like Alexander Canario was given to struggling veterans like Trey Mancini, Tucker Barnhart, and Eric Hosmer on more occasions than I'd like to remember.

But we're already seeing a stark difference in the approach to handling Morel as new manager Craig Counsell said he plans primarily to work him at third base this Spring. And this is just the tip of the iceberg because, during his nine-year tenure with the Brewers, Counsell proved over and over again that he could get results out of rosters that looked inferior on paper. With the Cubs already so close last year combined with Counsell's experience and willingness to think outside the box added to the mix, it feels like this team is ready to go beyond expectations.