Ever since the Los Angeles Dodgers didn't tender Cody Bellinger for the 2023 season, he has gained significant interest from multiple teams that are looking for a bounce-back candidate including the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs have been connected to Bellinger long before the non-tender decision in anticipation of a move such as this, but now we have even more evidence that the Cubs could have the upper hand in landing Bellinger if they choose to do so.
Perhaps no better selling point is that Bellinger may already have a connection with the new Cubs hitting coach, Dustin Kelly. For somebody connected to Bellinger via the Dodgers organization during his MVP season, it bodes well for obvious reasons for a team like the Cubs in terms of acquiring him. Granted, It's been stated that Bellinger's issue isn't exactly with his swing, but rather the strength of his shoulder after having shoulder surgery.
Bellinger's needs are two-fold. He first needs a training staff that can help him rebuild that strength in his shoulder. Also, he needs to be guaranteed nearly every day playing time. Granted the Cubs have openings at both centerfield and first base, Bellinger's two primary positions, so there's no reason he shouldn't be penciled into the line-up every day. If Bellinger can be promised these two things, then working with hitting coach Dustin Brown is certainly another point that tips the scales in the Cubs' direction.
The Chicago Cubs have a unique connection with Cody Bellinger
However, there's more. We all know Wrigley Field is one of the more hitter-friendly parks in all of baseball. On top of banning the shift in 2023, for Bellinger, playing at Wrigley Field for 81 games a year seems like the perfect way to rebuild value while in search of a long-term deal. So you have a former hitting coach, no shifts allowed in a hitter-friendly ballpark, and the ability to play every day and showcase yourself. Simply, what the Cubs can't allow to happen is letting themselves be outbid.
Bellinger was scheduled to make slightly north of 18.0MM in arbitration this year. If I'm the Cubs, knowing all that was mentioned above, I'm doing everything I can to land him in Cubbie Blue. Of course, all of that works out well Bellinger, but Bellinger himself is a perfect fit for the Cubs as they are in desperate need of a center fielder who can potentially move the needle toward contention. Furthermore, the fact the Cubs need him for one year, and that Bellinger only wants a one-year prove-it deal, it seems like a match made in heaven for both sides. Many will try to drive the price up, but the Cubs need to be willing to strike here.