Cody Bellinger Is Looking on the Bright Side of His New Cubs Contract

Cody Bellinger Is Looking on the Bright Side of His New Cubs Contract

This is exactly the deal Cody Bellinger wanted. Just listen to him.
“Presumably at the beginning of the winter, you sort of imagined what you thought the winter would look like and how things would play out,” I said during Wednesday’s press conference at the Cubs’ spring-training facility in Arizona with regard to the three-year, $80 million contract Bellinger signed with Chicago earlier this week. That sum landed something like six years and $100 million south of what some outlets projected. “How close was what actually happened to what you envisioned in October or November?”
Bellinger turned silently to his left, where his agent, Scott Boras, was sitting.
“That’s for Cody,” I added.
Bellinger continued to stare at Boras, who eventually answered on his client’s behalf. “When you go into these things, there are variables,” he said. “What are the variables? And the variables relate to teams. We have some irregularities going on in this current market. We have close to 11 teams that are spending less money than they did a year ago on competitiveness—in light of the fact that we have record revenues in baseball. And when you have that irregularity ongoing, that obviously is something that—we had, I think, 15 contracts of four years or more signed in ’22, and then in [’23] the same. This year we’ve had four for American players and five for foreign players. [By FanGraphs’ count, 16 players who were in the major leagues in the previous year and two who were not got four or more years in ’22, 15 and two in ’23 and six and five in ’24.]
“So when you look at this, there are dynamics that are ongoing. And in fairness, owners, they may like to get to spring training, they might like to evaluate. They may like to look at things and then act. But there has been a hesitation in the Major League auto, where they’re using three gears instead of four for competitiveness.”
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers did manage to extract an answer from Bellinger about whether he had hoped to sign a longer deal.
“I think there’s definitely that thought that goes into it,” Bellinger said. “And you know, like I said, I think that ultimately that’s the goal. And so I talked to Scott continuously and [saw] what was going on. And you know, at the end of the day, super excited how it all worked out. And you know, like yes, obviously, but very excited with it all and very happy to get down here.”
Bellinger is in what must be a frustrating position. He was the 2017 National League Rookie of the Year and the ’19 MVP with the Dodgers; he plays Gold Glove–caliber defense at two positions; he is 28, hit .307 and slugged .525 last season in a prove-it year with the Cubs. He did prove it. But he also had surgery for a dislocated right shoulder from a too-enthusiastic high five in ’20, missed two months after breaking his left leg in a collision in ’21 and hit .193 over two years, leading Los Angeles to non-tender him after ’22. So no team trusted him enough to give him the nine-figure, decade-long deal he sought.
“I trust myself as a baseball player to go out every single day and do what I can to help the team win,” he said.
Boras insisted that this deal, which includes a chance for Bellinger to opt out after each year and test the market again, is actually a victory. He said he had “close to 15 teams” calling to ask about Bellinger, although he declined to share whether anyone had offered more than three years.

“Cody and I agreed that we’re going to look at this in a couple of ways,” Boras said. “We’re going to have two positive outcomes for this process. And one positive outcome: We knew that—and [Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer] was very clear that—they wanted to contract with Cody and have him on the team. And our dynamic was to determine what it was on the other end with a contract of great length.

And as we got through that process, we let Jed know that something like this, with this type of structure, this kind of flexibility, with these kinds of things, is what we’re looking for. And we had mutual agreement and understanding that this type of structure was agreeable to both of us.”
After the press conference was over, Bellinger said he had to go work out. He wants to be ready to take live batting practice on Thursday and get into games soon. He and his agent embraced.
Boras would be in touch, he promised Bellinger. After all, he said, “We’re doing this again next year.”

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