Heading into the offseason, everyone seemed to think it was a slam dunk that Cody Bellinger would wind up with the new York Yankees in free agency. In need of an impact left-handed outfield bat and with a clear opportunity to get more athletic in the process, it felt like a perfect fit.
But after New York pulled off a rare trade with the division rival Red Sox for Alex Verdugo and with reports of a massive trade with San Diego that would bring superstar Juan Soto and veteran Trent Grisham to the Bronx, the team's outfield picture has gotten crowded quickly, making a Bellinger pursuit seem highly unlikely.
Cubs still need Cody Bellinger's asking price to come down
With that in mind, despite Bellinger's massive asking price, which has been reported to be at or above $250 million, the Cubs' chances of bringing him back on a long-term deal just got demonstrably better.
Jed Hoyer will never shell out that kind of money - but unless a team like the San Francisco Giants step up and give him that mega-deal, he could wind up having to settle for a deal that's more palatable for teams. Obviously that's relevant to a Cubs team that annually misses out on premier free agents over their unwillingness to shell out deals that set the market.
Chicago has the same needs it had a year ago: first and third base, center field and the pitching staff, as a whole. This time around, when it comes to the rotation, it seems like more top-shelf arms are on the team's radar - and they'll need to add some pop to the lineup, especially if Bellinger signs elsewhere.
Now I'm not saying it's not down to the Giants or Cubs. It's too early in the offseason to jump to such dramatic conclusions. But the Yankees being out of the mix is a plus in Chicago's column - and makes a reunion more likely than it was even yesterday.