The Chicago Cubs began their off-season in earnest this past week as the team signed Japanese starting pitcher Shota Imanga and traded for first baseman Michael Busch.
In the immediate aftermath of the Cubs' trade for Busch, it became apparent that the plan was for Busch to be the primary first baseman for the team in 2024.
While speaking with reporters prior to the start of the Cub Convention on Friday, Cubs' president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer did confirm that Busch will play with a strong indication that it will be at first base.
That could be a tip of the cap to the rumors that the Cubs have been involved in contract talks with Cody Bellinger and Rhys Hoskins.
Bellinger played a lot of first base for the Cubs during the 2023 season and may have been the player that Hoyer was talking about when asked about what is next for the team's off-season.
Bellinger had 16 home runs against right-handed pitchers last season while compiling a 120 wRC+. The addition of Busch to the Cubs' starting lineup wouldn't complicate the fit either for the Cubs in terms of bringing Bellinger back.
One scenario that could play it for the Cubs is Bellinger opening the season in center field with Busch as the team's first baseman. That scenario would include Pete Crow-Armstrong beginning the season with Triple-A Iowa. If Crow-Armstrong thrives at Iowa, then Bellinger could move to the first base with Busch occupying third base or the designated hitter spot in the lineup.
The moves that the Cubs made this week marked the start of their off-season, not their entire off-season. Given the team-friendly acquisitions of Imanaga and Busch, the Cubs remain in a position to be aggressive in the final month before Spring Training.