MLB Insider: Cubs’ best offseason steal wasn’t Cody Bellinger after all

Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers
Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers / John Fisher/GettyImages

The Chicago Cubs secured one of the steals of the offseason – and it wasn’t Cody Bellinger.

Yes, signing Bellinger to a three-year, $80 million contract was a coup for the Cubs. The deal contains an opt-out after the first season that would allow the left-handed slugger to test free agency again after the 2024 season. It adds a much-needed power bat to the lineup and completely flips the narrative on what had previously been an underwhelming Cubs offseason.

But a real coup for the Cubs was signing veteran first baseman Garrett Cooper to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. Cooper, 33, is coming off a season in which he hit .251/.304/.419 with 17 home runs in 457 plate appearances with the Padres and Marlins. What likely hurt Cooper was his below-average defensive metrics, but a player of his caliber on a minor-league deal is rare, and an opportunity that President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer was smart to pounce on.

Garrett Cooper is Cubs' biggest steal of the offseason

It’s yet another veteran addition on a non-roster invitee contract for the Cubs, who also signed veterans Dom Smith and David Peralta.

But the Cubs had competition for Cooper’s services. According to sources, the veteran slugger drew interest from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds and Texas Rangers, among others. The Milwaukee Brewers had some level of interest in Cooper, but withdrew from his sweepstakes after signing Rhys Hoskins.

Now, the Cubs have secured four veterans -- led by Bellinger -- to bolster the lineup. They still have the flexibility to add another bat with Matt Chapman still lingering on the market. It’s uncertain whether they will be involved in that market, especially with the team hoping Christopher Morel emerges as the primary third baseman.

But the Bellinger domino was the most important of the Cubs’ winter. They secured Bellinger, and also landed what could be the steal of the offseason in Cooper.

Next. 4 moves the Cubs should make after inking Cody Bellinger to 3-year deal. 4 moves the Cubs should make after inking Cody Bellinger to 3-year deal. dark