Cubs agree to 1-year deal with Cody Bellinger: Sources


SAN DIEGO, California — The Chicago Cubs have agreed to a one-year deal with free-agent outfielder Cody Bellinger, major league sources tell The Athletic. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Dodgers declined to tender a contract to Bellinger last month. He had been with the organization since being drafted in 2013.
  • Bellinger won the National League MVP award along with a Gold Glove Award and Silver Slugger Award in 2019.
  • The 27-year-old has dealt with ongoing injuries and hitting slumps in the past two seasons.
  • The one-year deal is worth $17.5 million, according to multiple reports.


One of Scott Boras’ catchphrases is the “pillow contract,” a one-year deal that places a talented player in a comfortable situation after a down season, giving him a good platform to showcase his skills, prove he’s healthy and reestablish his value before re-entering the free-agent market. The Chicago Cubs are betting that Wrigley Field will be that right environment for Bellinger, who had once been on a superstar trajectory before injuries and a downward offensive spiral compelled the Los Angeles Dodgers to release him last month rather than offer him a contract through the arbitration system.

The Cubs reached an agreement with Bellinger on a one-year deal, viewing him as a high-risk, high-reward gamble at this stage of their rebuilding cycle. — Mooney

What Bellinger brings to Cubs

The Cubs have a huge hole in center field, an opening at first base, a lineup lacking left-handed power and a roster that needs so much more impact talent. At minimum, Bellinger can play Gold Glove defense in center field, rotate to first base if needed, hit home runs and do some of the little things as a plus baserunner.

With a resume that includes Rookie of the Year and MVP awards, two All-Star selections, a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove, MLB Trade Rumors projected that Bellinger would have earned $18.1 million in arbitration if the Dodgers retained him. Since the start of the 2021 season, however, Bellinger has a .193 batting average and a .611 OP in 900 plate appearances. Given the limited options for a stopgap center fielder until top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong is ready, Bellinger is a good change-of-scenery candidate.

“We’ve had multiyear offers for him, but we’re probably going to pursue a one-year contract,” Boras said Tuesday during his annual Winter Meetings press conference. “He was a player that a lot of teams were surprised is available, a 27-year-old MVP-type guy who suffered an injury and is getting his strength back. There are a lot of teams that are looking at that as a very serious upside.” — Mooney

What this means for Los Angeles

The Dodgers remained engaged with Bellinger and his agent, Boras, on trying to come to an agreement under the $18 million he was projected to make in arbitration even before non-tendering him on Nov. 18. But despite their interest and belief that Bellinger could tap back into some of that upside, a reunion was never seen as all that likely, Bellinger had a trade market, carved out a market of close to a dozen teams, once he hit free agency with Boras making clear he was looking for a one-year deal that could build back some of Bellinger’s value. That will come in Chicago and not in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles has stated it is content with a potential outfield pairing of James Outman and Trayce Thompson tackling center field, but have also expressed interest in former Rays center fielder (and Andrew Friedman draft pick) Kevin Kiermaier to fill their center field hole, according to major-league sources. — Ardaya

Required reading

(Photo:  Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA Today)


Related posts

Leave a Comment