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 is the core of the Cubs lineup

Bellinger's return seemed inevitable from the day the offseason ended. It was only fitting he returned to the team where he resurrected his MVP-caliber production and both parties finally came to an agreement this weekend. An agreement that looks good for both sides as the Cubs avoided committing hundreds of millions in a long-term deal while Bellinger is still earning $30 million a year with the ability to opt-out and seek a larger pay-day should he perform well.

This should yield short-term success for the Cubs because the team excelled when he was in the lineup last year. Over the month that Bellinger missed due to a hip injury, the Cubs saw themselves lose 15 contests and dip to a season-low ten games below .500. Even missing that month, Bellinger still led the team in several offensive categories like batting average (.307), home runs (26), RBI's (97) and OPS (.881).

Had he played a full season and avoided injury, it's likely Bellinger would have exceeded 30 home runs and 110 RBI, making him the most valuable hitter on the team by far. With Bellinger back in the mix, he will likely be the starting center fielder on opening day and bat somewhere in the middle of the lineup to maximize the power and run-driving-in ability from his left-handed swing.

Possible Cubs opening day lineup:

Hoerner 2B

Happ LF

Swanson SS

Bellinger CF

Suzuki RF

Morel 3B

Busch 1B

Gomes/Amaya C

Canario DH