One of the biggest reasons that the Chicago Cubs were good in 2023 was the play of Cody Bellinger. He signed over from the Los Angeles Dodgers where he was really starting to struggle.
Bellinger was an MVP winner in his earlier days with the Dodgers but things fell off a cliff for him. The problem was that he isn’t old or anything like that so his random below-average play was very interesting/concerning.
With the Cubs, he was hoping to revitalize his career so he could get back on track. He did that and then some throughout the 2023 campaign. He was so good that he played a role in the Cubs being one of the surprise good teams.
They chose to not trade him during the trade deadline season which was a good idea at the time. It sent a message that the Cubs are not just signing guys to trade them away. The league knew at that point that they were serious about winning in 2023.
The Chicago Cubs needed Marcus Stroman and Cody Bellinger badly in 2023.
They also got really good production from Marcus Stroman who was in his second year with the team. He pitched very well for the team throughout the year, especially in the first half of the season.
Like Bellinger, Stroman was in trade conversations but nothing ever came of it. With both of them sticking around, the Chicago Cubs felt like they had a chance to compete down the stretch. Unfortunately, with these two still in the mix, they fell just short of the playoffs.
The lowest Wild Card Arizona Diamondbacks ended up making a run to the World Series so you never know what would have happened if the Cubs did end up getting in this year. It was a disappointing end but it makes the future appear to be bright.
On Friday, we learned that Bellinger declined his mutual option with the Chicago Cubs so he is now a free agent. The Cubs will have to pay him a $5 million buyout. This is less than ideal for them. It would have been nice to see them extend him during the season but it never got done.
They can only hope that they find a way to get him signed for next season. Every team should want him but the Cubs can say that they helped him earn this reputation back.
One day later on Saturday, we learned that Marcus Stroman also opted out of his deal. he had one year with $21 million to go on it. Now, he is a free agent as well.
If the Cubs were smart, they’d see the opportunity in front of them. The Texas Rangers just proved that the Cubs could be a World Series winner in 2024. Part of that plan being Cody Bellinger and/or Marcus Stroman would make it even better. They should be trying really hard to get new deals with them done.
No matter what Bellinger or Stroman chose, they earned this right and it wasn’t an easy road to get here for them. They deserve respect but the Cubs still need to be out there every day trying to get them back.