Central Notes: Bellinger, Counsell, Tigers

Cody Bellinger, the center fielder for the Cubs, is expected to be one of the top free agents in the upcoming offseason. His performance during the 2023 season has garnered attention, with a slash line of .307/.356/.525, 26 home runs, and a low strikeout rate of 15.6%. Additionally, his defensive skills have been impressive, both in center field and at first base, and he has also showcased his speed with 20 stolen bases. This bounce back season comes after two challenging years for Bellinger, where he struggled to perform well at the plate. However, scouts believe that Bellinger will continue to be an above-average player in the next few years, possibly maintaining a wRC+ of 115-120 in 2024 and beyond.

The Cubs are preparing to negotiate with Bellinger and his agent, Scott Boras, expecting the process to continue into the offseason. Despite the interest in resigning him, the negotiations are expected to be lengthy, potentially lasting until the new year. The Cubs view the pursuit of Bellinger as a crucial part of their offseason plans, following a surprisingly competitive 2023 season where they narrowly missed out on a Wild Card spot. Bellinger was a key offensive contributor to the team, and his potential departure could result in a significant drop in offensive output for the Cubs in 2024.

More from around MLB’s Central divisions…

  • The manager of the Brewers, Craig Counsell, is meeting with the Guardians to discuss their managerial opening. While a deal is considered unlikely, the Guardians have a history of investing more in their managers compared to other small-market clubs. Counsell, a highly regarded manager in the game, is expected to garner interest from other teams, including the Mets. This meeting with the Guardians marks his first official interview of the offseason.
  • The Tigers found success with left-hander Tyler Holton, whom they claimed off waivers during Spring Training. Holton performed exceptionally well for Detroit, with a 2.11 ERA and 3.56 FIP in 85 innings. This highlights the Tigers’ strategy of utilizing the waiver wire, which has been successful under president of baseball operations Scott Harris. In addition to the waiver claim, the Tigers’ pitching infrastructure played a significant role in Holton’s development, particularly his effective slider, which limited hitters to a .135 average and a .153 wOBA.


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