MLB Rumors: 3 free agents Cubs need to sign next after getting Hector Neris

The Chicago Cubs swooped in and signed Hector Neris to a one-year, $9 million contract. Who should Jed Hoyer target next?

Hector Neris, Houston Astros
Hector Neris, Houston Astros / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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1. Cubs just need to re-sign Cody Bellinger

Just do it!

The Cubs are waiting for the price to come down, but spring training is three weeks away. If Chicago messes around too much, Bellinger will sign with another team. Chicago can ill-afford such an outcome, even if Chapman or another high-profile bat decides to join Craig Counsell's squad. Bellinger was the lifeblood of Chicago's second-half surge last season. If not for the Cubs' inexplicable collapse in the final week, Bellinger would have put Chicago back in the playoffs.

There are valid concerns about the low hard-hit rate and Bellinger's general volatility over the last few years, but only so many players can slash .307/.356/.525 over an entire season. Bellinger whacked 26 home runs and 97 RBI in 499 AB, showcasing his trademark plate discipline. He doesn't strike out; he's one of the best in baseball at battling with two strikes and extending at-bats. The Cubs would desperately miss his support in the middle of the lineup.

Chicago would need to figure out Bellinger's outlook on defense with Michael Busch in the mix at first base. The outfield spots are mostly taken care of and Pete Crow-Armstrong is often cited as the logical heir to Bellinger's throne in center, even if he doesn't have the bat to back it up yet. But this is Cody Bellinger, and the Cubs can figure it out with the flexibility of the DH spot and Christopher Morel's theoretical positional versatility.

The 2019 National League MVP has not received a single formal offer yet this offseason. That is wild to think about. There is natural concern about handing a 10 or 11-year deal to Bellinger after how his Dodgers tenure ended, but he's very clearly an All-Star when healthy. The Cubs want him back. He wants to come back. It's all a matter of money. Hopefully, the two sides can find common ground before it's too late.

MLB RUMORS. Bellinger hurdle, Snell offer, Ohtani opening series hurdle. Bellinger hurdle, Snell offer, Ohtani opening series hurdle. dark