April 21, 2024


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Sources: Cody Bellinger, Cubs agree to 3-year, $80M deal

Sources: Cody Bellinger, Cubs agree to 3-year, $80M deal

Outfielder Cody Bellinger and the Cubs have agreed to a three-year, $80 million contract, sources told ESPN, ending a lengthy free agency with a running back following a stellar 2023 season with Chicago.

The 28-year-old Bellinger will receive an opt-out after the first and second years of the deal, sources said. He will earn a salary of $30 million this season, $30 million in 2025 (if he doesn't opt ​​out after year one) and $20 million in 2026 (if he doesn't opt ​​out after year two), according to sources.

Coming off a season in which he hit .307/.356/.525 with 26 home runs and 97 RBIs, Bellinger hit free agency hoping to land a huge contract. A strong market never materialized, and Bellinger took a similar path to that of Carlos Correa, with whom he shares an agent in Scott Boras.

Prior to the 2022 season, Correa signed a three-year, $105 million contract with Minnesota when no team offered a long-term deal he considered worth signing. Correa opted out after the first season and returned to the Twins on a six-year, $200 million deal after medical issues voided agreements with the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets. Bellinger's deal is pending a physical.

Bellinger's health in 2023 allowed him to flourish in a season that earned him National League Player of the Year. After finishing 10th in NL MVP voting, Bellinger cut his batting average nearly in half from previous seasons and proved his skill against left-handed pitching as well, hitting .337 against them with a .984 OPS.

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Before joining the Cubs, Bellinger was coming off two straight seasons after suffering a shoulder injury since the 2020 playoffs. And although he produced the lowest average exit velocity of his career in 2023 — just 87.9 mph — Bellinger often clipped his swing With two strokes, making contact softer but avoiding knocks. His whiff rate dropped to a career low of 15.6% as he hit .279 with two hits, second in baseball behind Luis Arraez.

Bellinger returns to a Cubs team that has patiently awaited a free agent market that still includes NL Cy Young winner Blake Snell, World Series star Jordan Montgomery, and All-Star third baseman Matt Chapman. After signing left-hander Shota Imanaga to a four-year, $53 million deal, the Cubs added reliever Hector Neres to a one-year, $9 million deal. Chicago also traded for former Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Michael Bush, who will compete for the starting job.

Bellinger can play there or center, and the Cubs valued his versatility last season, using him 84 times in the outfield and 59 times in the outfield. He established himself as a dual-position star with the Dodgers, with whom he won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2017 and was the NL's Most Valuable Player in 2019 after hitting .305/.406/.629.

He fell flat in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season and spiraled even worse in 2021, hitting .165/.240/.302 with 10 home runs in 95 games. With his health still in question during the 2022 season, he hit .210/.265/.389 with 19 home runs in 144 games and was not pitched by the Dodgers that season.

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Bellinger went to Chicago for $17.5 million, won the Silver Slugger Award, opted out of his $25 million option for this season and entered a market that looked promising for the best hitter available. General managers considered the initial price too high, and with Bellinger still on the market, the number of teams committed to spending money diminished.

Teams cited uncertainty over local TV rights as an incentive not to spend. With the exception of the Dodgers — who have committed more than $1 billion — no team has surpassed the $200 million mark in free agent spending.

ESPN's Jesse Rogers contributed to this report.