The Cubs are likely to make a qualifying offer to Cody Bellinger
Cody Bellinger was easily the Cubs' best player in 2023.
After several down years to close out his run with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the 2019 NL MVP had a resurgent season in Chicago, slashing .307/.356/.525 with 26 home runs and 97 runs batted in.
Throw in the fact that he missed a month due to injury, and the numbers look even more impressive, which is why it's essentially guaranteed that he'll decline his side of the $12 million mutual option on his contract to test the market.
The Cubs figure to be one of several suitors for Bellinger, who'll likely command a massive multi-year deal. But as there's obviously no guarantee that the two-time All-Star will return, it seems Chicago is sure to make him a qualifying offer, which would give them a little compensation if he signs elsewhere.
For those unfamiliar with the process, a club wishing to receive compensatory picks in the MLB Draft for the loss of a free agent can make that player a qualifying offer worth the mean salary of the league's 125 highest-paid players.
If a player accepts the offer, he's signed for the following season at that predetermined rate, which is expected to be around $20.5 million for the 2024 season. If he rejects it, he remains free to explore his options in free agency.
MLB Trade Rumors classifies Bellinger as one of three "no-doubters" who will receive such an offer, the other two being Shohei Ohtani and Matt Chapman. But one wouldn't think a guy represented by Scott Boras would even be allowed to accept.
And the Cubs likely know that. Again, this is just a backup plan to get an extra draft pick if they're unable to bring Bellinger back.