Former NL MVP Cody Bellinger was not supposed to remain a Chicago Cub after the 2023 trade deadline. In fact, Bellinger, once he signed his one-year contract to join the franchise in December after slumping over the past three seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, wasn't supposed to be valuable, either. He offered little fantasy relevance. Bellinger used to be a marvelous fantasy option, and then, rather quickly, he was not. The Cubs didn't figure to contend. Perhaps Bellinger would play well enough to entice an actual contender into a trade for a prospect.
Now the Cubs say that Bellinger will stick around, and that is probably because a wild-card berth has surprisingly become well within reach while most NL wild-card contenders muddle along. Fantasy baseball managers may not be any more eager to trade him, either, as Bellinger enters the final day of July hitting a robust .406 during the month with eight home runs, 24 RBIs and a pair of stolen bases. He is in a virtual tie with likely NL MVP Ronald Acuna Jr. atop the 30-day Player Rater.
The Bellinger who hit .305 with 47 home runs, 115 RBIs and 15 stolen bases while winning the real-life (and fantasy) MVP Award is not this version, and he is not coming back. Bellinger hit .203 with 41 home runs over the past three seasons. Perhaps he needed that proverbial change of scenery. He was no longer a building block fantasy option. What is he now? Well, let's not overreact, fantasy managers. Bellinger entered this July hitting .266 with only seven home runs (over three months) and a .780 OPS. Then one magical month changed everything. Should it? Shouldn't we know better?