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Cody Bellinger was the talk of Cubs Convention … without being in attendance

1 month agoAndy Martinez

As Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts kicked off the 2024 Cubs Convention on Friday night, the audible chants of “Cody! Cody!” reverberated through the Ballroom at the Sheraton Grand Chicago.

It was just the beginning of the Cody Bellinger praise that lasted all weekend.

A few hours later, when president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer and general manager Carter Hawkins took the stage on Off the Mound with Ryan Dempster the “Cody! Cody!” chant reappeared.

Saturday morning, as the Baseball Operations Update panel began with Hoyer and Hawkins, host Jon “Boog” Sciambi joked that he planned to FaceTime Scott Boras, Bellinger’s agent.

“He has an Android,” Hawkins quipped.

Then, the second question Hoyer and Hawkins received from a fan during that panel — the first of the day — was whether Bellinger would return.

“On Cody, I’ll give you the non-answer, but we loved having him,” Hoyer told the fan. “We’ve got a great relationship and we’ll see.”

“Before we get to next year, we gotta re-sign Belli,” star shortstop Dansby Swanson said during the Hitters Session Saturday afternoon.

The biggest star of Cubs Convention might’ve been the one not in attendance — Bellinger, and whether he’d return, was the talk of the town.

Hoyer and Hawkins, like they have since Bellinger officially hit the open market, kept their cards close to their chest.

“I think the world of Cody,” Hoyer said Friday afternoon. “Obviously, he had a great year here. And even beyond having a great year for us, he really ingratiated himself well with the city, the fan base, the players. The players really think highly of him, and he knows that I think highly of him. None of that has changed at all.”

He gave a similar statement to the fan who asked him Saturday morning whether he’d return. The answer was like the one he gave at the beginning of the offseason, too.

Cubs fans and even teammates want Bellinger to return.

“Yeah, I would love to play with Belli more. He’s awesome,” Nico Hoerner said Friday. “Wishing him the best and obviously I hope he’s with us.”

Bellinger’s Cubs teammates have been in communication, but they’re not pressing him either. It’s Bellinger’s process at the end of the day and they’re giving him space.

“Just football and Fortnite talk, normal offseason talks,” Justin Steele said of their conversations. “He’s doing good. He’s a great friend.”

Hoyer never discusses deals with the media or in public, preferring to strike in silence, much like he did in both offseason moves thus far — signing Japanese starter Shōta Imanaga and trading for top prospect Michael Busch and reliever Yency Almonte. (Not to mention the stunning change at manager as Craig Counsell replaced David Ross.) So, don’t read the lack of clarity on Bellinger as a sign that he will — or won’t — return to Chicago.

But it’s clear where fans stand, and it’s clear what he would bring to this team. The lineup still needs another middle-of-the-order bat, preferably from the left side of the plate.

That’s what has the Cubs players the most excited.

“I think it would just instill a little bit more confidence into everybody knowing we have one more solidified person in the lineup playing defense behind us,” Steele said. “Adding Imanaga, another solid piece in the rotation, all that stuff, it just adds confidence for us moving along.”

The Cubs will be patient. They’d have loved to have signed Bellinger early in the offseason like Swanson did last year. But things haven’t transpired like that. Instead, they’ll continue to prepare for Spring Training, which is a month away, and let the chips fall as they may.

“I think, again, wouldn’t rule out a player based on when he’s gonna sign,” Hawkins said Saturday. “We want good players any time of the year, but yeah we would prefer to have players sooner than later in a vacuum.”

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