The Chicago Cubs came very close to reaching the postseason last year, finishing one game back of the third and final Wild Card spot in the National League.
One of their key contributors was Cody Bellinger, who earned National League Comeback Player of the Year honors.
The veteran slugger is now a free agent and has still yet to sign, even with spring training fast approaching.
The general consensus has been that the Cubs will ultimately re-sign Bellinger, but Jeff Passan of ESPN is starting to believe otherwise.
In an interview with ESPN Chicago, Passan stated that he believes the Cubs will still sign one of Matt Chapman, Blake Snell, and Jordan Montgomery, but that Bellinger may be unlikely.
"I think with Bellinger, they don't want to go seven or eight years," said Passan. "They don't want to go 200-plus million dollars."
Insider casts doubt on Cubs-Bellinger reunion
Passan noted that if the price drops and the Cubs are able to do a shorter-term deal with Bellinger, the idea of a reunion "becomes more attractive."
However, Passan believes that the Toronto Blue Jays are a more likely fit.
"I don't think the desperation is necessarily there (for the Cubs) the same way it is for the Blue Jays."
The Cubs do have Pete Crow-Armstrong waiting in the wings, who could ultimately be an internal replacement for Bellinger if the latter walks in free agency. PCA has said he wants Belli back as a teammate.
But the Cubs would be smart to stay in the mix for Chapman if Bellinger leaves, as they'll need a bat to fill the hole as an insurance policy in case Crow-Armstrong struggles at the plate.
The Cubs were expected to be very aggressive this offseason, but outside of signing Shota Imanaga and Hector Neris, the team has been relatively quiet in the free agent market.
Still, the NL Central is a weaker division and as such is wide open for the taking. The Cubs could be the team that ultimately emerges at the top.
A reunion is still possible, but it will be interesting to see how Bellinger's market develops in the coming weeks.