Cody Bellinger re-signs with Chicago Cubs on three-year, $80 million deal

Cody Bellinger's long-awaited pot of gold at the end of the free agency rainbow finally emerged Sunday perhaps not as full as the 2019 National League MVP might have envisioned.

Bellinger agreed to a three-year, $80 million contract to return to the Chicago Cubs, according to a person with direct knowledge of the agreement. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the contract will not be finalized until Bellinger completes his physical.

Bellinger, 28, was the best position player on this free agent market, unsurprising after he made history in winning the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year and two years later hit 49 homers to capture the MVP award. But two injury-filled seasons that compromised both his upper (right shoulder) and lower (calf) body contributed to a pair of desultory seasons in which he batted .193 with a .611 OPS.

That prompted the Los Angeles Dodgers to non-tender rather than pay him around $18 million via arbitration last winter. The Cubs snapped him up – and both parties benefited.

Bellinger batted .307 with an .881 OPS and 140 adjusted OPS for the Cubs, numbers far more in line with the .911 OPS and 140 adjusted mark during his first four seasons.

Cody Bellinger spent the 2023 season with the Chicago Cubs.
Cody Bellinger spent the 2023 season with the Chicago Cubs.

But a separated shoulder suffered while celebrating in the 2020 NLCS – it required off-season shoulder surgery – sent him on a significant detour, his compromised body and the subsequent outcome dimming his confidence. He reemerged this year as a five-tool talent, playing Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field and at first base while producing 4.4 Wins Above Replacement.

Yet his suitors on the open market apparently remained skeptical of his health and production woes. Clubs like the Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants remained on the front burner, but the offers Boras and Bellinger apparently sought never materialized.

As spring training began earlier this month, Bellinger, pitchers Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell and third baseman Matt Chapman - all Boras clients - remained unsigned. Sunday, Bellinger came to the conclusion a reunion − likely at a lower price and commitment than he desired − was the best route to go.

Yet Bellinger will hit free agency again at 31 and in the meantime, thrust the Cubs toward the front of the NL Central.

Contributing: Bob Nightengale

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cody Bellinger, Chicago Cubs agree to three-year, $80 million contract