Cody Bellinger Contract: Chicago Cubs protect themselves with creative deal

The Chicago Cubs deal with Cody Bellinger is the type of opportunistic move that the front office strives to make.

Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers
Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers / John Fisher/GettyImages
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The Chicago Cubs were never going to race the market in order to sign Cody Bellinger after Bellinger spent the 2023 season at Wrigley Field, earning National League Comeback Player of the Year award honors.

Bellinger's agent, Scott Boras, was positioning the 2019 National League MVP as one of the top free agents on the market and was using his MVP background as a large part of the reason why he should land a long-term deal worth north of $250MM. That was never going to be a deal that the Cubs were going to make and it seemed the team had accepted the fact that Bellinger would likely be with the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, or San Francisco Giants at the start of the 2024 season.

That market never developed for Bellinger as the Yankees' largest deal of the off-season was to trade for a different Boras client, Juan Soto. Meanwhile, the Giants and Blue Jays had interest in Bellinger but not to the levels that would pay him as a perennial MVP-award candidate.

Bellinger's market was coming back to the Cubs and that is why it was no surprise to hear the news on Sunday morning that the outfielder has signed a three-year deal with the North Siders worth $80MM.

In their contract with Cody Bellinger, the Chicago Cubs provided themselves with an exit strategy.

The primary reason why the Cubs were hesitant on a long-term deal with Bellinger is that despite his success in reworking his swing last season; the batted-ball metrics would suggest that the results are not sustainable. If that proves the case, the three-deal will not put the Cubs in financial prison as the team suggested the Jason Heyward contract did.

For Bellinger, the Cubs also afforded him the opportunity to cash in on another contract if he is able to repeat the success had in 2023. The free-agent market for outfielders is incredibly thin over the next two seasons with Juan Soto being the headliner next winter but Bellinger would likely remove the doubt that teams had this winter if he repeats his success in 2024 with the Cubs.

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