Insider ties Chicago Cubs to Shohei Ohtani and Cody Bellinger in latest FA primer

The Chicago Cubs are expected to spend aggressively this winter to cement their return to competitive baseball and that has linked the team to Shohei Ohtani and Cody Bellinger.
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The Chicago Cubs are battling for a return to the postseason for the first time since 2020 as the 2023 season flips to the final month of the regular season and it also is a signal for what lies ahead for the Cubs this off-season.

After spending intelligently over the course of the past two winters, there has been the industry-wide expectation that the Cubs will be aggressive in free agency this off-season as they look to enter the 2024 season as legitimate World Series contenders.

To that end, it is no surprise to see Jon Heyman of the New York Post link the Cubs to both Shohei Ohtani and their current center fielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger when talking about nine of the top free agents to be this winter.

"1. Shohei Ohtani
We still envision a $500 million deal even after he tore the UCL in his pitching arm.

He is baseball’s best hitter in 2023, and though half his great game may need to wait a while, as one exec put it, “He’s still Shohei Ohtani.”

The Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Mariners, Cubs, Rangers, Mariners, Mets, Yankees and incumbent Angels are logical contenders. "

Jon Heyman via The New York Post

There is no doubt that the Cubs are going to be mentioned in Ohtani's sweepstakes until the day arrives when he signs with another team. It would seem that the expectation is still for Ohtani to reach the $500MM level with his next deal and as long as that remains the case, the Cubs likely will not be the victor in the sweepstakes--especially, considering the questions that linger over to the longevity of him pitching.

"2. Cody Bellinger
It would have been hard to imagine he’d rise to the second spot after the Dodgers non-tendered him, but at 27 he becomes one of the younger former MVPs to hit free agency (along with Bryce Harper and Barry Bonds).

He probably needed a change of scenery and is back to past greatness.

Matt Holliday, who’s instructed him, suggested he’d like to see him back with the Cubs, where coaching familiarity paid off.

The Yankees, where his dad Clay won two rings, are a natural fit. "

Jon Heyman via The New York Post

It should be pretty clear that Bellinger is going to be the Cubs' priority this winter. Bellinger is the anchor of the Cubs' offense and if you take him out of the lineup, the team would be in desperate need of the very thing that he represents.

There is a strong likelihood that the Cubs will be signing at least one player to a long-term, lucrative contract this off-season and Bellinger appears to be the player that they have in mind.

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