Cubs Finally Re-Sign Star Slugger to $80 Million Deal

The Cubs' Cody Bellinger signed a three-year, $80 million deal to return to the North Side.

Gett The Cubs' Cody Bellinger signed a three-year, $80 million deal to return to the North Side.

The long, drawn out free agency of Cody Bellinger is over, as he will return to the Cubs on a three-year, $80 million contract that features player options after the first and second years, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN. While the deal does allow Bellinger to return to free agency quickly, it is short of what he had hoped for—according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, Bellinger was seeking a long-term, $200 million contract.

Bellinger, a 28-year-old lefty outfielder and first baseman, enjoyed a renaissance season in his first year with the Cubs last season, when he batted .307 with 26 home runs and 97 RBIs. Bellinger had battled an injury to his shoulder for the previous two seasons, and had batted just .203 in his previous three years with the Dodgers, after winning the National League MVP award in 2019.

He put up the big numbers last year despite dealing with a knee injury that kept him out for a month. After June 1, Bellinger hit .321, and the Cubs are hopeful he will pick up where he left off now that he is signed.

Cubs Cody Bellinger Was Seeking $200 Million

Again, it is something of a disappointment for Bellinger, who was essentially waited out by the Cubs as it became clear that there was not a hefty market for him. The Blue Jays and Giants were rumored to have interest, but neither wanted the price tag Bellinger was seeking.

Now, the Cubs will return a solid middle-of-the-order bat to a team that had not accomplished much in free agency, passing on big names like Juan Soto, Shohei Ohtani, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The big move was adding pitcher Shota Imanaga, who is expected to be a starter on the back end of the rotation.

While there was some consternation around the Cubs faithful about Bellinger not being re-signed, the fact is, the Cubs were being patient all along and effectively won the deal.

As national writer Bob Nightengale told A.J. Pierzynski on the “Foul Territory” podcast: “I think the Cubs have played this smart with Bellinger,” “I haven’t heard another team that’s said ‘We really want this guy’ except for the Cubs.’

“I was at the Cubs camp for a couple of days. The players keep talking about Bellinger, and the fans. Really, I’m not sure there’s another place for him to go.”

Scott Boras Clients Still Struggling to Find Deals

Indeed, there wasn’t, and you have to wonder if some other big-time free agents who remain unsigned here in late February will follow suit by accepting short-term deals with opt outs.

Bellinger is a Scott Boras client, and several of Boras’ other clients remain unsigned, including slugger J.D. Martinez, third baseman Matt Chapman, pitcher Jordan Montgomery, and N.L. Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell.

As Boras told Nightengale, “Clubs have plenty of money to spend but they’re not spending in a matter that is customary to competitiveness. It’s not that they don’t have the ability to pay, but their choice to regress on their payrolls.

“Nobody is saying the revenues in baseball are not going up, or that every team in baseball isn’t getting record revenues than at any time in their history, but you’re seeing clubs that are not in any way pursuing competitiveness in the manner of the past.”


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