1) The Cubs remain the best landing spot for Cody Bellinger
Like the Giants, the Chicago Cubs have been linked to a bevy of impact players this offseason and have signed none of them. The Shota Imanaga signing was a solid one, and the Michael Busch trade can wind up panning out in their favor, but on paper, the Cubs look worse than they were last season. The addition of Craig Counsell should help, but losing Marcus Stroman and potentially Cody Bellinger would hurt. They can negate that by re-signing Bellinger.
The simple reality with Bellinger and the Cubs is Chicago needs his bat. The Cubs ranked sixth in the majors in runs scored in large part because of their best position player, Bellinger. He might not perform at an MVP level again, but he showed that he at the very least can perform like an All-Star, which the Cubs could really use.
Bellinger can play both the outfield and first base, and the Cubs have uncertainty at both spots. They hope Pete Crow-Armstrong becomes their full-time center fielder, but after the top prospect went hitless in 19 MLB plate appearances to begin his career in September, who knows how ready he is? They hope Michael Busch settles in as their regular first baseman, but he has a .539 OPS in 72 MLB plate appearances.
Expecting to win while relying on multiple unproven players is a risk the Cubs really shouldn't take. The hesitancy to meet Bellinger's asking price is very understandable, but they should absolutely be prioritizing bringing him back. That's their best shot at competing with teams like the Reds and Cardinals in the NL Central.