Should KC Royals fans be angry about the big Cody Bellinger news?

The Chicago star is returning to the Cubs.

Matt Dirksen/GettyImages
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After a long winter of speculation and angst-generating uncertainty on Chicago's North Side, Cubs fans are breathing a giant collective sigh of relief today after reports surfaced in the early morning hours that their club had finally resecured the services of fan-favorite center fielder Cody Bellinger with a three-year, $80 million contract. And it didn't take long for some KC Royals fans and observers to lament Chicago's good fortune as a Kansas City loss.

Their reaction wasn't an avalanche of discontent, but was noticeable nevertheless. Those disenchanted with the fact that Bellinger will again be a Cub, and not a new Royal, made their presence known — the sentiment, either express or implied, was that KC should have signed Bellinger.

Would bringing him into the Royal fold have been a big deal? Yes. The former National League MVP and Rookie of the Year who's also a three-time NL All-Star and Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner would have been an upgrade over any of KC's present outfielders and resolved any question of who should patrol center for the Royals. In 2023, his first season with the Cubs after spending the first six campaigns of his big league career with the Dodgers, he slashed .307/.356/.525, led Chicago with 97 RBI, tied teammate Christopher Morel for the club lead in homers with 26, and posted a nice four OAA.

But any chagrin over KC general manager J.J. Picollo not landing Bellinger simply assumes too much. Way too much.

Let's not be angry the Royals didn't add Cody Bellinger to their roster

Kansas City fans shouldn't be mad about the Bellinger signing; anger would be more appropriate if founded upon some reasonable expectation that the Royals were in the running for Bellinger's services. There weren't any signs of that, however.

No one outside the club or its close confidantes, for example, really knows if Picollo made any kind of run at Bellinger. Did he call Bellinger's agent? Was tring to sign Bellinger ever on Kansas City's agenda? It's reasonable to believe Picollo at least considered him, but strong indications of any serious pursuit haven't materialized, at least not publicly.

Also crucial is Bellinger's own agenda. Was he interested in leaving Chicago, where he wasted no time becoming a Cub fixture and attracting widespread and deep fan affection? Assuming he was, did that interest include Kansas City? Perhaps it did, especially considering how much Picollo seems to have improved the club this offseason, and the commitment to their future the Royals proved by signing Bobby Witt Jr. to a long-term extension.

Assuming, though, just for the sake of argument, that the Royals and Bellinger had at least some mutual interest in discussing a potential deal, whether principal owner John Sherman would have approved the financial side of any such agreement is an interesting question. That the Royals could have afforded the $80 million it cost the Cubs to re-sign Bellinger is probable, but is that the kind of money that figures readily into the team's immediate plans?

And then there's the behind-the-scenes issue. Kansas City rarely makes its free agent intentions known until it signs one. Who, after all, saw the recent Adam Frazier deal coming? Did Picollo sit down with Bellinger and his agent and get close to an agreement? If so, did Sherman nix a deal? Did Sherman and Picollo want Bellinger but couldn't land him?

Tough questions, to be sure, the answers to which will likely remain unknown forever.

But it never hurts to dream, something Bellinger fans among Royals faithful clearly did. But criticizing the club for not making a deal it might never have been able to consummate seems like a bit of a stretch.

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