MLB Rumors: Latest Cody Bellinger reports could cause Cubs to shift focus

The Chicago Cubs still want to bring back Cody Bellinger, but they may be forced to pivot for several reasons.

Chicago Cubs v Toronto Blue Jays
Chicago Cubs v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages

The Chicago Cubs are among the finalists for outfielder Cody Bellinger, though they're fading fast. After losing out on Shohei Ohtani, the Blue Jays have picked up their aggressiveness on the free-agent market. Their top target is Bellinger, and with Yoshinobu Yamamoto off the board, expect his market to pick up shortly.

The Cubs like Bellinger plenty, but they do not believe he is worth over $250 million, which was his reported price tag earlier this offseason. Some team could offer Bellinger over $200 million and the Cubs could still balk, and rightly so. Belli is just one winter removed from signing a prove-it deal with in Chicago, having lost his swing entirely. If anyone knows if his 2023 campaign is replicable, it is them.

Chicago wants to spend money this winter and it doesn't have to be on Bellinger. After adding Craig Counsell as manager, the Cubs window of contention is nearing, despite barely missing the playoffs in 2023. Bellinger should be a part of those Chicago teams if it comes at the right price.

MLB Rumors: Why the Cubs may not sign Cody Bellinger

MLB Network's Will Leitch named the Blue Jays the favorites for Bellinger last week.

Bellinger is also a Scott Boras client, and his price tag suggests he will wait quite a bit before actually agreeing to a deal. This is his last, best chance for a huge payday.

The Cubs can and should take a step back and focus on prospect development. Players like Pete Crow-Armstrong are closing in on the majors and will serve as cheap replacements for Belli. MLB Pipeline is high on Crow-Armstrong's potential:

"As exciting as Crow-Armstrong's enhanced offensive upside is, it pales in comparison to his defense. Scouts give top-of-the-scale grades to his center-field skills, as he exhibits tremendous range from gap to gap with his combination of plus speed and precision reads and routes, and he completes the package with solid arm strength."

Crow-Armstrong is one of the top prospects in baseball, and has an elite glove for someone his age. His bat is still developing, but improved immensely in the last year. Overpaying for Bellinger doesn't make a lot of sense with Crow-Armstrong's promotion around the corner.