Former Yankees outfielder could replace Bellinger at Cubs – What does it mean for the Bronx Bombers?

Former Yankees' outfielder Harrison Bader

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As previously mentioned, the New York Yankees have shown interest in signing Cody Bellinger. On the other hand, the Chicago Cubs are currently dealing with a crucial offseason following Cody Bellinger’s decision to decline his 2024 player option and become a free agent. This move has created significant roster gaps for the Cubs, particularly in the areas of centerfield, third base, and their pitching staff. The 2023 season concluded with the Cincinnati Reds finishing just one game behind the Cubs, and Chicago narrowly missed securing a Wild Card spot. To maintain their competitiveness within the National League Central division, it is essential for the Cubs to actively participate in the free agency market during this offseason.

Is Harrison Bader going to the Cubs?

One name that has surfaced as a potential solution to the Cubs’ centerfield dilemma is former New York Yankees outfielder Harrison Bader. MLB.com has identified Bader as a suitable candidate to fill this void. Bader is renowned for his elite defensive skills in centerfield and his base-running abilities. What makes him an attractive option is not only his skill set but also his expected price tag. Rumors suggest that Bader could command a contract with an annual average value (AAV) of $10 million, which is considerably more affordable than the outgoing Bellinger while maintaining a similar defensive prowess. It’s important to note that Bellinger’s offensive capabilities are unmatched in this year’s pool of free-agent hitters.

Bader‘s 2023 performance showcased his value. He posted a slash line of .232/.274/.622 and swiped 20 bases during the season. While his offensive output was decent, Bader’s true calling card is his Gold Glove-worthy defense. However, a lingering concern looms over his health. Bader has reached the 100-game mark only once since 2019, and during the 2023 season, he found himself on the 10-day injured list on three separate occasions, each absence spanning over a month.

Former Yankee vs. Yankees’ top target: Bader vs. Bellinger and pitching priorities for the Cubs

Opting for Bader over re-signing Bellinger could offer the Cubs a financial advantage in addressing other areas of need, primarily their starting pitching. With Marcus Stroman opting out of his 2024 player option, starting pitching becomes a top priority on the front office’s agenda. Strengthening the pitching rotation is vital to bridge the gap between the Milwaukee Brewers, who lead the division, and pursuing a Wild Card spot.

In summary, the Chicago Cubs face a pivotal offseason as they navigate the departure of Cody Bellinger and the need to reinforce their roster, especially in centerfield. Former Yankees outfielder Harrison Bader emerges as a cost-effective and defensively skilled replacement option. While Bader may not match Bellinger’s offensive output, his defensive prowess and lower price tag make him an attractive candidate. However, concerns about Bader’s injury history linger. Regardless of their choice, the Cubs must prioritize addressing their pitching staff to remain competitive in the National League Central. Closing the gap between division leaders and securing a Wild Card spot should be the top objectives as they venture into the free agency and offseason period.

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