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Cody Bellinger, Cubs reportedly agree to 3-year deal

Ryan Herrera Avatar
February 25, 2024

MESA, Ariz. — Last month at the Cubs Convention, Dansby Swanson sat on stage in front of a giant group of Cubs fans and said the magic words that got the crowd buzzing: “Before we get to next year, we gotta re-sign Belli.”

Finally, Swanson wish has been granted.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported early Sunday morning that the Cubs and Cody Bellinger, 28, agreed to a three-year deal worth $80 million. The Cubs are set to pay $30 million in each of the first two years and $20 million in Year 3, though the deal also includes opt-outs after 2024 and 2025.

The Bellinger free-agency saga took a firm hold of the Cubs’ offseason conversation, particularly after it became clear they weren’t going to win the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. It took another turn when chairman Tom Ricketts said the morning of the first official full-squad workout Monday that discussions with Bellinger’s camp hadn’t “become a negotiation yet.”

But a Bellinger-Cubs reunion always made sense. Bellinger rediscovered a form closer to his 2019 National League MVP season with the Cubs last season. Despite missing a month in the first half due to a knee injury, he finished with 4.1 Wins Above Replacement (FanGraphs), earned a 10th place finish in NL MVP voting and was named the NL Comeback Player of the Year.

“I’ve said dozens of times I think at this point: I have nothing but admiration for him,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said at the opening presser of spring training, echoing his same message from the last three-plus months of the offseason. “He came in last year coming off two struggling, poor seasons in LA and wanted that fresh start. He came in here, worked incredibly hard every day here with [hitting coach] Dustin Kelly in the offseason. It’s gratifying to watch someone’s hard work pay off.

“Obviously, he had a great year last year. He was a really good teammate. So like I said, I have a ton of admiration for Cody, and I’ve said that a ton.”

With him on the free-agent market, the question surrounding the Cubs was how they would replace his production if he signed elsewhere. Their only big league postion-player addition was trading for Michael Busch from the Dodgers, and without Bellinger, it appeared they were heading toward a season where they would rely on internal improvements to get them back to the postseason.

But now with Bellinger back in the fold, they’re bringing back their top offensive producer who they know they can rely on to hold down multiple positions defensively.

Still, even with him around and contributing above most expectations in 2023, the Cubs fell short of the playoffs after a September slide. They’ve taken steps to improve the roster this winter, as beyond acquiring Busch (and Yency Almonte in the same deal), they signed Shota Imanaga and Héctor Neris and made the managerial switch to Craig Counsell.

Without what felt like a major addition, though, there was good reason to question if the Cubs were better positioned to make a run to the playoffs in 2024. But with Bellinger back on the ballclub, even if only for a year, the postseason seems a whole lot more in play.

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