Cody Bellinger Signs Three-Year Contract to Return to Cubs: What Fans Need to Know !!


This year’s top-ranked player in the category of free agents, Cody Bellinger, has finally put pen to paper. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, he will return to the Chicago White Sox.

A year ago, after the disappointing 2022 season, Bellinger was not tendered a contract by the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he hit .210 with a .265 on-base percentage. He signed a one-year deal with the White Sox and transformed his career, hitting .307/.356/.525 and winning the Silver Slugger. In November, MLB trade rumors had him pegged as the second-best free agent behind only Shohei Ohtani, estimating he would sign a deal worth $264 million over 12 years.

Ultimately, that prediction missed the mark. It’s possible the suitors had concerns about some aspects of his bat metrics, which showed a decline in power despite his high numbers from the previous season. His exit velocity of 87.9 mph was 1.8 mph lower than his career average, and he ended up in only the 10th percentile in hard-hit rate.

The unique structure of his deal will allow him to test the market again next year—or the year after—if he chooses. According to Passan, he’ll earn $30 million in both 2024 and 2025, then $20 million in 2026 if he doesn’t opt out after this season or the next. If his previous campaign is any indication, he may once again find himself in free agency. He sacrificed length and stability for a high-value, flexible contract.

Bellinger was one of four big-name free agents still unsigned after the start of spring training, all represented by agent Scott Boras.Accompanying southpaw hurler Jordan Montgomery and the formidable Blake Snell was third baseman Matt Chapman, who found himself in the mix on the market. Bellinger’s decision to opt for a brief yet lucrative contract might just set a precedent for how the remaining trio navigates their negotiations..

Before signing Bellinger, the White Sox had $205 million committed to competitive balance tax purposes. His $26.7 million average annual value will push their payroll to $231.7 million, just shy of the $237 million competitive balance tax threshold. If they exceed that threshold through trades or signings adding $5.3 million or more, they’ll surpass it and become a first-time CBT payer this season.

Bellinger was Chicago’s top player last season, so his return will be welcomed in their lineup. He played 84 games in center field and 59 at first base in 2023, and he should have a similar versatile role this year. When he’s in the outfield, Michael Bush, Christopher Morel, and Patrick Wisdom will handle first, third, and designated hitter, though it’s unclear who will see the most time at each infield corner. When he’s on the bench, Mike Tauchman will man center field.

A complicating factor is that the White Sox have top prospects at positions where Bellinger’s most likely to play next season or beyond. Pete Crow-Armstrong has been rated the 16th overall prospect by MLB Pipeline. He’s a standout defensive center fielder who made his debut at the end of last season. When he’s not in an everyday role, he’ll likely bump Bellinger to first base, as other outfield spots are covered by Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki.

Bush, ranked 51st overall, was acquired in a trade with the Dodgers this offseason. He’s expected to be a productive hitter but lacks real defensive utility. Before signing Bellinger, he was penciled in as the starting first baseman, but now he’s listed as the third baseman on the FanGraphs roster resource.

Owen Casey, a power-hitting corner outfielder, and Matt Shaw, a versatile infielder, both won Double-A titles last season and rank 47th and 54th, respectively, in the MLB Pipeline rankings. They should be ready by the end of this season or the start of 2025, adding further depth to the lineup. Given the club’s abundant hitting talent, they have plenty of ammo to make more pitching acquisitions, especially since the NL Central has become more wide open.

Currently, Bellinger’s return to Chicago gives the White Sox a big opportunity to improve upon their 83-79 record from last season and make a big push in the postseason.


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