With Bellinger coming back to Cubs, where is he going to play?

Cody Bellinger is back in with the Cubs, although his three-year, $80 million contract has not been officially announced.

That leads to an obvious question — what does it mean for the Cubs in center field and at first base?

Not only is he the Cubs' best hitter, Bellinger is a standout defender at both positions.

Last season, Bellinger played 84 games in center field and 59 at first base. He was also the designated hitter in three games.

When Bellinger does report to training camp, new manager Craig Counsell will have some decisions to make.

“Everyday players, multi-position players, they do a lot for your position group,” Counsell told reporters in Arizona. “Those are very valuable players, so obviously that changes a lot of what you think about your position group.”

Considering he spent the majority of his time in center last season, his first with the Cubs, it's safe to assume Bellinger will primarily be in the middle of the outfield this year.

“The outfield could get a little tighter here,” Counsell said.

Pete Crow-Armstrong had a shot at breaking camp as the Cubs' starter in center, but the 21-year-old top prospect is now likely to open the season with Class AAA Iowa.

Acquired from the Mets in the July 2021 trade that sent shortstop Javier Baez to New York, Crow-Armstrong split last season between Iowa and Double-A Tennessee and hit .283/.365/.511 with 20 home runs and 82 RBI in 107 games.

Crow-Armstrong also played in 13 games with the Cubs and was hitless in 14 at-bats. That's a minuscule sample size, but going back to Iowa for more seasoning couldn't hurt the young outfielder.

“This is how it works on a good team,” Counsell said. “You’ve got to fight your way into a lineup, you’ve got to earn it. There’s still plenty of opportunity there for Pete. There’s still plenty of room for him to improve. Those players try to force their way in and that’s where Pete sits right now, still with that opportunity.”

At first base, Michael Busch, Patrick Wisdom and non-roster invitee Dom Smith are the Cubs' top options outside of Bellinger.

Busch was acquired from the Dodgers in a Jan. 11 trade. He played in 27 games with Los Angeles last year and hit .167/.247/.292 with 2 homers and 7 RBI.

The 26-year-old Busch spent most of 2023 with AAA Oklahoma City and slashed .323/.431/.618 with 27 home runs and 90 RBI over 98 games.

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