2 different contract structures - Seven years/175.0M
A straight-up deal like this is always an option, but this version is less likely. It could still make sense to structure a deal this way, but my guy tells me the Cubs will land Bellinger on a more complicated deal, such as they did Shota Imanaga. Still, let's understand why a deal such as this isn't necessarily the worst thing that could happen either.
Let’s take a moment to compare Dansby Swanson to Cody Bellinger. In 2022, during Swanson’s contract year, he put up career highs offensively and defensively. We knew that if Swanson regressed offensively in 2023 (which he did), he would still be an elite defender and have an overall high enough floor to justify any dips in offensive production.
$200+ million for Bellinger is still too high, just as it would have been for Swanson. But seven years at 25 per is easier to stomach. It’s a straight-up contract that some years will pay off and some probably won’t. To avoid financial burden later, make the first few years a higher AAV. Given that the team only has an estimated 125M heading into 2025 (before arbitration figures) on the books, the Cubs are financially wide open starting in a few years for this to be a severe issue.
We keep talking about Bellinger's batted ball metric projections and fail to realize that even if he drops back to something like Swanson did offensively for the Cubs in ‘23, he’s still an above-average player who can fill holes for you defensively. The same metrics experts consistently refer to as worrisome also had no idea Bellinger would do what he did last season, so put as much stock into that as you wish. Batting .307 with 26 HRs and 97 RBIs isn't the result of just good luck.