The Cleveland Guardians have attempted to fix the inconstencies within their outfield group for quite some time now, and time and time again those fixes do very little. Their primary target has been to look inside their organization at the minor league level and look for the next "big thing", but it may finally be time for them to look at other clubhouses.
In recent weeks, the Guardians have been rumored to be in the running for a number of different outfielders, but one that the team should take a deeper look at is Chicago Cubs' Cody Bellinger. Bellinger joined the Cubs this past offseason after spending six seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, with his most recent two being marked with miserable performances on the field.
Before joining the Cubs, he slashed an abysmal .188/.253/.345 slash line to go alongside an OPS of .598. Throughout his hitting struggles, he recorded just 36 doubles, 29 home runs and 104 RBIs. For comparison, in the 2019 season, he knocked 34 doubles, 47 home runs, and 115 runs, which drastically beats out his 2021 and 2022 campaigns.
However, he has practically revitalized his career with his new squad as he is batting an impressive .314 with 15 doubles, 14 home runs, and 45 RBIs. His 82 hits have also helped the team bring in runs as he's scored 53 times. Those numbers could greatly help the Cleveland Guardians who are struggling to find any sort of hitting agenda, especially with their current outfielders.
Heading into the All-Star break, the team lost three contests that saw just four runs being scored across all three outings combined. That lack of production from the offense cannot be a constant, but unfortunately, it is.
The team as a whole ranks 25th in the league in OPS and is dead last in total home runs with 62. They also sit 26th in the league in RBIs with just 394. Bellinger's production on the field would be critical as the team looks to round that bend of struggle some play and prepare for the tail end of the season.
Would a trade for Bellinger be likely?
The Cubs are currently under .500 and drastically out of first place in the NL Central. Even if the team doesn't start selling in preparation for a rebuild, Bellinger could still be on his way out to increase room for prospects to get a shot.
Since he is playing at such a high level, the Guardians would likely have to dig a bit into their minor league system while also giving up at least one major leaguer. This would give the Cubs what they are looking for in terms of minor-league talent, and if the Guardians were smart, they would send Straw as well.
Straw is a phenomenal fielder, and that has been the constant argument against moving on from him, but Bellinger is a very solid fielder. Across over 475 innings this year, he has recorded a .993 fielding percentage with three outs above average, marking a fairly similar fielding status in comparison to Straw.
He has also played the first base position, an area on the field that has been thin for the Guardians at times over the course of the last two seasons. This would also give the team some much-needed depth in that area.
Another factor that has to be talked about is his expiring contract which would decrease his price on both sides as his future is most certainly undetermined. But, if the Guardians are serious about potentially competing against some of the top teams across the majors, they need to start making moves to better the roster.
Overall, this trade could be likely if the asking price is within range for both sides, but with little rumors involving the two parties, don't get too excited just yet.