Agent Reveals Why Cubs’ 2-Time All-Star Didn’t Get Projected $264 Million Deal

Scott Boras

Getty Cody Bellinger's agent, Scott Boras, explained why his client ultimately took a short-term deal to return to the Chicago Cubs.

The Chicago Cubs were able to appease fans and some of its star players by agreeing to bring back slugger Cody Bellinger on a three-year, $80 million deal after he hit free agency.

But the negotiations were prolonged, as the two-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger, former Gold Glove Award winner and former MVP was projected to make much more. Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported that Bellinger was seeking at least $200 million in a new deal. MLB Trade Rumors projected that Bellinger was worthy of a deal in the range of $264 million over 12 years.

Scott Boras, the agent who represents Bellinger and numerous other MLB stars, recently explained why his client was forced to settle for a dramatically smaller deal.

“The market viewed Cody as, what happened in ‘21 and ‘22? So we know going into this process that choices were going to be most important,” Boras told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. “You’re either going to get the appropriate AAV (average annual value), but you’re not going to get the length, or you’re going to get the length at a much lower AAV, so what do you choose?”

Scott Boras Said Down Seasons Kept Cody Bellinger From Getting Projected Deal

Boras was referring to relatively down years at the plate for Bellinger in 2021 and 2022. Following an MVP season with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021 in which he slashed .305/.406/.629, Bellinger saw his averages dip to .165/.240/.302 in 2021. 

Following another disappointing season in 2022, he was non-tendered by the Dodgers and signed a one-year, $17.5 million deal with the Cubs. He proceeded to win the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award with a .307/.356/.525 slash line before hitting free agency again and ultimately returning to the Cubs.

Boras added that MLB teams had been telling Bellinger and another client, Blake Snell, that neither would secure a long-term, high-AAV contract due to poor seasons before 2023.

“I don’t think (the contract) predictions included what we were fully aware of,” Boras said, “and that is, clubs were going to come to us and say, ‘We’re not going to look at length with premium AAVs because of what preceded their performance prior to 2023.’”

A Short-Term Deal for Cody Bellinger Protects the Chicago Cubs

Ultimately, Bellinger settled for a top-25 AAV deal that gives him the option to opt out after this season or next and re-test the market. If he enjoys the kind of season he had in 2023, there’s a good chance that some one of his previous projections could become a reality for 2025 and beyond. Until then, his short-term deal seems like a good compromise for both Bellinger and the Cubs.

“Bellinger will earn $30 million in 2024, $30 million in 2025 and $20 million in 2026, and will have the ability to opt out of the deal and hit free agency again after each season,” Bob Nightengale reported for USA Today. “Bellinger gets a high annual salary, and the Cubs avoid a long-term commitment, protected in case he isn’t the same player that won the hearts of the fans and organization.”

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