Did Cubs-Cody Bellinger deal open up nightmare scenario for Reds?

The Cubs wouldn't, would they?

Chicago Cubs first baseman Cody Bellinger (24) high fives
Chicago Cubs first baseman Cody Bellinger (24) high fives / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Winning the National League Central Division just got a little tougher over the weekend after an early-morning report on Sunday claimed that the Chicago Cubs and Cody Bellinger have agreed to a three-year, $80 million contract.

This was always supposed to happen, and industry sources had been reporting for months that a deal between the Cubs and Bellinger was inevitable. Though it's probably not the contract that Bellinger was seeking, the former NL MVP will now be back on the North Side for at least the 2024 season, and will make the Cincinnati Reds' efforts to win the NL Central a bit more difficult.

But the Cubs now have a chance to greatly increase their odds in 2024, in what would be a nightmare scenario for the Reds. With Bellinger now in the fold, and at a discounted price, will fellow Scott Boras client Matt Champman follow suit and sign a short-term deal with the Cubs?

Did Cubs-Cody Bellinger deal open up nightmare scenario for Reds?

After watching the Milwaukee Brewers trade away Corbin Burnes earlier this offseason, it would seem as though the NL Central is shaping up to be a three-horse between the Reds, Cubs, and St. Louis Cardinals. But if Chicago is able to sign Chapman, the Reds and Cards will suddenly take a backseat in the division.

Chapman, known more for his glove than his bat, has been on the Cubs' radar this offseason. However, Chicago has been unwilling to pay these astronomical prices that Boras' top four clients (Bellinger, Chapman, Blake Snell, and Jordan Montgomery) have been seeking.

The Cubs are unlikely to cross the $237 million tax threshold, but with their current payroll estimated to be sitting at $190 million per FanGraphs, Chicago still has plenty of money to spend without having to surrender the extra 20% in Competitive Balance Tax.

Could the Cubs now make a play for Matt Chapman?

At the moment, the Cubs likely Opening Day third baseman is Nick Madrigal. Maybe Christopher Morel grabs the starting job during spring training, but the jury is still out on that one. Adding Matt Chapman would thurst the Cubs to the top of the NL Central discussion ahead of the 2024 season.

The Cincinnati Reds are looking to live up to the lofty expectations they've set for themselves after winning 82 games a year ago. The balance of power for top three teams in the NL Central would appear to be even right now, but if the Cubs make another splash, every team in the division will be looking up at Chicago to start the season.