Cody Bellinger Rejoins Cubs on 3-Year, $80M Deal

Hey, looks like Lisa may have been right. It also appears as though Jed Hoyer was right to stick to his guns and not play Scott Boras’s game. After a prolonged period of free agency that saw no teams meaningfully engage with the agent on his top client, Cody Bellinger agreed to return to the Cubs on a three-year, $80 million deal. And in a beautiful stroke of coincidence, it’s on the same date Dexter Fowler strolled into camp in 2016.

Jeff Passan was the first to report details of the new pact, which has the kind of structure many believed it would take to get something done.

It seems like just about everyone who’s been prognosticating on this situation has been right to an extent, as the Cubs have long been the best — and maybe only — fit. This contract also indicates that Bellinger wanted to stay in Chicago and get something done rather than sit out any longer in the stubborn hope of landing a monster deal. That 12-year, $264 prediction looked beyond wild at the time, but it looks even sillier now.

Bellinger can opt out after each of the first two years of the deal, both of which will pay him $30 million. He’ll earn $20 million in 2026 if he chooses not to leave. That puts the AAV at $26.67 million and gets the Cubs to around $234 in total CBT payroll, slightly below the first penalty threshold. This fits perfectly with what Carter Hawkins said recently about being opportunistic and could also be exactly what Tom Ricketts needed to justify putting ad patches on the uniforms as a means of generating extra revenue.

Bringing Bellinger back should help to ease the unrest that’s sure to follow the addition of corporate sponsorship to jersey sleeves and it most definitely gives the Cubs a more potent roster. One little wrinkle here is that, barring other moves, the deal could also push them into penalty territory. If Bellinger opts out after this year — actually either of the first two years, but we’re just looking at 2024 calculations for now — his AAV jumps to $30 million gets the Cubs over $237 million on the whole.

Ed. note: The CBT calculations are actually a little different from what is explained above. More here on that and how the Cubs may be viewing payroll.

Much more to come on this as it continues to develop.

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