Cubs, Hoyer hope Bellinger returns to ‘all-star’ level originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Chicago Cubs’ decision to sign outfielder Cody Bellinger to a one-year contract drew a lot of attention in the baseball world, and President Jed Hoyer isn’t shy about what the organization hopes to get out of the former MVP.
In an interview on the New York Post’s “The Show” podcast, Hoyer told hosts Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman that the organization is hoping for more than just a serviceable outfielder when it comes to Bellinger’s 2023 season.
“The hope is that he gets back to being an All-Star-caliber player, gets back to being an unbelievable talent at age 27,” Hoyer said.
While he did concede that the team isn’t expecting him to return to MVP-caliber numbers or Gold Glove-caliber defense, he says that Bellinger’s attitude during contract negotiations stood out.
“It was very clear from the minute we expressed interest after he was non-tendered that he wanted a one-year deal in a place where he could reestablish his value,” he said. “(He said) ‘I believe in myself, I want to go to a place and have success,’ and I felt like we could be that place.”
Bellinger made his MLB debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017, immediately making a massive impact as he slugged 39 home runs and earned National League Rookie of the Year honors.
After another strong 2018 season he hit another level in 2019, hitting 47 home runs and driving in 115 RBI’s in 156 games as he captured the National League MVP award and a Gold Glove in center field.
Just as quickly as Bellinger’s star ascended, it crashed back down to Earth in following seasons as injuries and tweaks at the plate took their toll. He batted just .165 in 2021 with the Dodgers and slashed .210/.265/.389 in 550 plate appearances in 2022, with 19 home runs and 68 RBI’s to go along with 150 strikeouts.
Even though his numbers have taken a significant hit in recent years, Hoyer says that between working with coaches in the Cubs’ system that had previously helped him in the minor leagues, and Bellinger’s work ethic, he believes that the former MVP can once again be a star player in the league.
“He’s been working unbelievably hard,” he said. “He’s gone to our complex in Arizona every day since we signed him. My hope is he gets back to an excellent level.”