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Free agent Cody Bellinger returns to the Chicago Cubs on a three-year contract

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Cam Lewis
1 month ago
It took until late February, but one of Scott Boras’ top clients in the 2024 free agent class has finally signed a contract.
According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Chicago Cubs and Cody Bellinger have agreed to a three-year contract worth $80 million. Passan added that the contract features opt-out clauses after each season and is worth $30 million in 2024 and 2025 and $20 million in 2026.
The Cubs inked Bellinger to a one-year, show-me contract last winter after he was non-tendered by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The former Rookie of the Year and National League Most Valuable Player had slashed a .193/.256/.355 line over 239 games between two injury-riddled seasons with L.A. in 2021 and 2022.
With the Cubs, Bellinger posted his best numbers since winning the MVP in 2019. He slashed a .307/.356/.525 line over 130 games and hit 26 home runs and stole 20 bases. That said, while Bellinger’s boxcar stats improved considerably in 2023, his underwhelming underlying numbers in categories such as exit velocity and hard-hit percentage suggest that he benefitted from some luck.
After declining the qualifying offer from the Cubs, Bellinger went into his second go-around at free agency apparently seeking a contract north of $200 million. MLBTR predicted that Bellinger would land a deal worth $264 million over 12 years while former big-league general manager Jim Bowden had him significantly lower at $144 million over six years.
Three years and $80 million is obviously well below what Bellinger and Boras were looking for, and it was even shy of what the industry was predicting he would earn, but the opt-outs will allow him to test free agency again if the situation is advantageous and there’s more security than one-year deal would offer. If Bellinger can repeat his performance in 2024, he should have an easier time landing a big contract next winter.
With Bellinger off the board, it’s now the Boras Three, with reigning NL Cy Young winner Blake Snell, World Series champion Jordan Montgomery, and Gold Glover Matt Chapman left looking for deals.
The three teams who have been linked to Chapman the most this off-season are the Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, and San Francisco Giants. Signing Bellinger would likely take Chicago out of the picture to add Chapman, so it seems he’ll likely either return to Toronto or head back out to the Bay Area. Toronto would have an advantage over SF here, as the Blue Jays wouldn’t need to sacrifice a draft pick to re-sign Chapman.
The Blue Jays clearly didn’t have an appetite to meet the $150-million-plus figure that Chapman and Boras were apparently seeking, but the team has expressed an interest in signing him to a multi-year deal. Back in November, Scott Mitchell of TSN reported that Chapman had declined a contract extension offer worth more than $100 million.
Something similar to Cody Bellinger’s deal with the Cubs seems inevitable for Chapman, who had a season in 2023 that started off incredibly well but finished poorly. The Blue Jays still need a third baseman and there’s a pretty clear blueprint here for a deal that should work for both sides.

ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO

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