Is Cody Bellinger's Signing a Setback for Cubs' Rising Star?

Cubs' latest move reshapes the path for a young prospect

by Nouman Rasool
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Is Cody Bellinger's Signing a Setback for Cubs' Rising Star?
© Harry How

Bolstering their effort for a stronger roster, the Chicago Cubs have officially re-signed Cody Bellinger to a lucrative three-year, $80 million contract. That move came on the heels of an offseason that, up to this point, had been rather quiet regarding major offensive acquisitions for the Cubs.

It is believed that the return of Bellinger to the fold will be one key move in properly bolstering the lineup of the team and competitive edge. Yet, that major re-signing has brought about talks of the effect it is going to bring, when it means leaving one of their most promising talents without a job.

A product of Harwood School in North Hollywood, Crow-Armstrong was the team's first-round pick in last year's draft from high school. Drafted in the first round last year by the New York Mets, this season was largely seen as the perfect juncture for Crow-Armstrong's promotion to the major league level, a move that now seems to have been pushed back due to Bellinger's occupied position.

Prospect's Triple-A Debate

MLB.com's Will Leitch guesses that Crow-Armstrong is probably going to start at Triple-A Iowa to keep him playing. Yet, for all the strategic rationale behind ensuring he gets every possible at-bat, there is a growing push that now believes Crow-Armstrong's contribution may be greater than the development that can be reaped through another run at Triple-A.

Showcasing over 34 games in this tier, during a showcase at this level in 2023, the player had an average of .271 with an on-base percentage of .350 and a slugging percentage at .479, and he added six home runs. However, his first exposure to the big leagues was rather taxing last year as Crow-Armstrong struggled to get a hit in 14 at-bats striking out seven times.

It's just one reason retaining Bellinger, who could also play first base if needed, is a hedge for the future for Crow-Armstrong, whom the Cubs acquired from the New York Mets in last year's Javier Baez deal. There's even speculation the Cubs would work to advance him at first base this very season, thus allowing them to work in his power without benching Bellinger.

Placing him now in that crossroads position in his career as a fourth outfielder seems unlikely, and the discourse moves towards the benefits of further seasoning in Triple-A. The Cubs are laying out some sort of plan for the future, yet these visions come to proper play on how best to gel the older veterans they have with developing prospects, such as Crow-Armstrong.

Management will most probably be on tenterhooks in a couple of months as they decide what exactly they must do, for the outcomes will most probably affect the dynamics on the field and one of baseball's young talents yet to spring to full effect, and so currently under close monitoring by the public eye.

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