Pirates will have to deal with Cody Bellinger again in 2024

Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates
Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Pirates are gearing up for intense divisional battles as their rivals, the Chicago Cubs, have made a significant move in free agency. Cody Bellinger, one of the most formidable bats in the league, has agreed to return to the Cubs on a lucrative three-year, $80 million deal. However, he does have opt-outs which could make him a free agent after this season. Jeff Passan of ESPN dropped the news on X (formerly Twitter):

Bellinger's return to the Cubs comes after a stellar season in 2023, where he showcased his all-star potential at the plate and in the field. The 28-year-old center fielder posted impressive numbers with a slash line of .307/.356/.525, along with 26 home runs and 20 stolen bases. His outstanding performance earned him a Silver Slugger award and placed him in the top 10 for NL MVP voting.

What is kind of crazy is that he did not earn an All-Star spot in 2023. Yet, he was an MVP candidate. This speaks more to the all-star process than anything. Bellinger's return to the Cubs roster adds a big-time bat to their lineup, a left-handed one in that, which of course makes him a homerun threat at PNC Park. The Bucs did hold Bellinger to just one homerun during the 2023 season. However, he still posted very strong numbers batting .279 with a .835 OPS.

For Pirates fans, Bellinger's return to the Cubs means facing off against one of the league's best hitters a staggering 13 times throughout the season.

With his ability to impact games both offensively and defensively, Bellinger presents a formidable challenge for Pittsburgh pitchers and outfielders alike. His combination of power, speed, and defensive abilities makes him a player to watch whenever the Pirates take on the Cubs. The good news is the Pirates have also prioritized adding left-handed pitching this offseason which will be a good counter.