On the heels of an eight-game winning streak that has put them back in the postseason race, the Chicago Cubs have pulled center fielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger off the trade market, reports ESPN. Chicago will instead look to added pieces prior to Tuesday's 6 p.m. ET trade deadline, with bullpen help a priority.
Bellinger, who turned only 28 earlier this month, is having a resurgent season with the Cubs, hitting .315/.368/.540 with 15 home runs and a career low 16.1% strikeout rate. He's been especially productive this month, slashing .413/.477/.717 with eight home runs in 24 games as the Cubs surged up the standings in July.
The Cubs signed Bellinger to a one-year, $17.5 million contract after he was non-tendered by the Los Angeles Dodgers this past offseason. Since they're keeping him at the deadline, Chicago figures to make an effort to extend Bellinger, though keep in mind he and agent Scott Boras wanted a one-year deal specifically so he could rebuild value, and that's what happened.
Bellinger and Boras may be dead set on testing free agency after the season. In that case, Chicago could make him the qualifying offer and receive a compensation draft pick in the event he signs elsewhere. That's something to worry about in a few months though. For now, the Cubs are back in the race, and they're going to make a run at a postseason berth.
The eight-game winning streak is Chicago's longest since an 11-gamer in 2016. They are three games back of a wild-card spot and only 3.5 games back in the winnable NL Central. The Cubs have an important four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds coming up next week, and they still have six games remaining with the Milwaukee Brewers, including the final three games of the season.
The Cubs have another top trade candidate in starter Marcus Stroman, who can opt out of his contract after the season. He's had a very good season (though he has stumbled a bit lately) and is expected to opt out. It stands to reason the Cubs will keep Stroman in addition to Bellinger, though in a pitching-starved market, they could be blown away with an offer.
With Bellinger off the market, the best available outfield trade candidates are Randal Grichuk of the Colorado Rockies, New York Mets duo Mark Canha and Tommy Pham, and one or more of Alec Burleson, Dylan Carlson, and Tyler O'Neill of the St. Louis Cardinals.