Cubs, Cody Bellinger reach 1-year, $17.5M deal

Outfielder Cody Bellinger and the Chicago Cubs have agreed to a one-year, $17.5 million contract, sources familiar with the contract told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Tuesday.

Bellinger, 27, continued to provide Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, along with increased speed on base, but he continued to struggle offensively.

He was named National League Most Valuable Player after a 2019 season in which he batted .305/.406/.629 with 47 homers, 115 RBIs and 15 stolen bases while earning 7.7 FanGraphs wins above replacement. Since then, however, Bellinger has batted just .203/.272/.376 over a 295-game regular-season streak. His .648 OPS from 2020 to 2022 ranked 299th out of 338 qualified hitters during that streak.

“He’s very well placed defensively, base running, left-handed batting with the potential to have offensive improvement,” Cubs manager David Ross said in meetings on Tuesday. ‘winter.

Bellinger ventured into the free agent market a year earlier after being untendered by the Dodgers after the 2022 season. He was expected to earn around $18 million in 2023.

The Cubs are trying to quickly revamp their roster after saying goodbye to stars Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez in recent years. Bellinger provides them with a solid glove down the center as he attempts to recover his value at home plate.

He’s likely seen as a placeholder for prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong — the player they got from the New York Mets for Baez in 2021. If the Cubs field a contending team, Bellinger could help them get back to the playoffs playoffs for the first time since 2018. If they struggle — and Bellinger performs — he could be traded at the July deadline as the team makes way for Crow-Armstrong. If he continues to struggle, the Cubs will have wasted $17.5 million — but at least it would only be for one season.

Earlier on Tuesday, Bellinger’s agent Scott Boras said he was making multi-year offers for Bellinger but wanted a one-year contract so he could return to free agency after the hopefully 2023 season. after a better performance than in recent seasons.

Bellinger’s batting average has dropped to .165 in 2021. Last season, he hit .210 with 19 homers in 144 games for a Dodgers team that set a franchise record with 111 wins.

In six MLB seasons, all with Los Angeles, Bellinger has a career batting average of .248 with 152 homers, 422 RBIs and 62 stolen bases. The two-time All-Star selection was NL Rookie of the Year in 2017 and NLCS MVP in 2018, and won a World Series ring in 2020.

ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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