The 2023 MLB offseason is less than a week old, and it's already been quite a busy one for the Chicago Cubs.
In a stunning move on the managerial front, David Ross was fired after four seasons in favor of now-former Milwaukee Brewers skipper Craig Counsell, whom the Ricketts family made the highest-paid manager in MLB history with a five-year, $40 million contract.
But as wild as the move may be, we're not here to discuss that. No, today we're here to discuss a few options the Cubs need to be looking at if they can't bring Cody Bellinger back to the Windy City.
Bellinger, of course, recently declined his side of the $12 million mutual option on his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. And why wouldn't he?
Following a couple of down years with the Dodgers, Bellinger rediscovered the form that helped him become the 2019 National League MVP, slashing .307/.356/.525 with 26 home runs and 97 runs batted in. He also stole a career-high 20 bases in helping the Cubs to an 83-79 record, which will likely help him add the Comeback Player of the Year Award to his trophy case.
While the Cubs are still hoping to re-sign their best player from the 2023 campaign, there's obviously a strong chance that the two-time All-Star signs elsewhere. His services won't come cheap, and he may end up commanding upwards of $25 million per season, which Chicago may not be willing to pay.
With that said, let's take a look at some backup options the Cubs need to be looking at if Bellinger doesn't don blue pinstripes next year. And as he split time between the outfield and first base, we'll look at players at both positions.
5. Joc Pederson, OF
One interesting option is Bellinger's former Dodgers teammate, Joc Pederson, who called Wrigley Field home for half of the 2021 season before being dealt to the Atlanta Braves, with whom he became just the ninth player in MLB history to win back-to-back World Series with different teams.
No, he's not Bellinger. And his 73-game stint in Chicago wasn't overly stellar as he hit just .230 with 11 home runs and 73 runs batted in. But his stats did improve over the last two years with the San Francisco Giants, as he hit .255 with an OPS of .821. He also earned his second trip to the MLB All-Star Game in 2022.
Yes, Pederson regressed a touch in 2023. But that could actually benefit the Cubs, as he likely won't command the $19.5 million he made this past year. While not the best option, he's still a solid enough option at this point.