Cody Bellinger signs $80m contract extension with Chicago Cubs

Cody Bellinger will return to the Chicago Cubs and agree to a three-year contract worth $80 million, a person familiar with the deal told the Associated Press.

According to sources, the slugger can opt out of the deal after either of the first two seasons. Bellinger is expected to make $30 million this year, then $30 million in 2025 if he stays with Chicago, and $20 million in 2026 if he doesn’t opt ​​out of the contract.

Bellinger was one of five key free agents, represented by Scott Boras, who entered spring training without commitments. Pitchers Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, third baseman Matt Chapman and design hitter JD Martinez remain on the market.

It was a much different experience than last season, when Bellinger finalized a one-year, $17.5 million contract with the Cubs in December 2022. He then declined his end of a $25 million mutual option for 2024, and also rejected a $20.3 million qualifying offer. from Chicago after a resurgent performance.

After years of injuries, Bellinger was healthy again and regained the form that made him one of baseball’s biggest stars early in his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He hit a career-best .307 with 26 home runs, 97 RBIs and 20 steals in 130 games in 2023.

Bellinger, 28, helped the Cubs get into the playoffs before the team disappeared in September. He had 48 RBIs in a 45-game span from August 1 to September 19.

Bellinger also gave Chicago a lift with his defensive versatility. He won a Gold Glove in 2019 for his work in centerfield and also plays solid first base. He will likely be at center on opening day this year, giving top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong more time to develop.

Bellinger’s rejuvenation was greeted with some skepticism by the analytical public. He ranked in the 22nd percentile among major leaguers in average exit velocity and in the 10th percentile in number of hard-hit players in 2023. He was in the 83rd and 86th percentiles, respectively, when he won NL MVP in 2019.

Bellinger was selected by Los Angeles in the fourth round of the 2013 amateur draft. His father, Clay, was a utility man who played in 183 games in the big leagues, mostly with the New York Yankees.

Cody Bellinger broke into the Majors in 2017, hitting 39 home runs for the Dodgers and winning the NL Rookie of the Year award. He was the NL MVP in 2019, hitting .305 with a career-best 47 home runs and 115 RBIs in 156 games.

The Dodgers won the 2020 World Series and Bellinger played a key role in their success in October. He hit four home runs and drove in 13 runs in 18 postseason games as Los Angeles won it all for the first time since 1988.

After that great season in 2019, injuries became an issue. Bellinger had surgery on his right shoulder in November 2020. He hit a career-low .165 in 95 games in 2021.

Bellinger was let go by the Dodgers in November 2022 after hitting .210 with 19 home runs, 150 strikeouts and a .654 OPS in 144 games in his final season with the team.