Cubs finalize 1-year deal with former Dodgers MVP Bellinger


The Cubs finalized their one-year deal with center fielder Cody Bellinger on Wednesday, officially bringing the former Dodger to the North Side.

Bellinger will make $12.5 million in 2022 and his contract includes a $25 million option (or $5 million buyout) for 2024.

It's a fresh start for Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP who was non-tendered by the Dodgers last month entering his final year of arbitration eligibility. The 27-year-old is coming off two underperforming seasons that were in part due to injuries.

“That talent is still there,” Cubs general manager Carter Hawkins said of Bellinger at the Winter Meetings. “Obviously as you look at our lineup next year and where some of the opportunities are to add a bat or to add a defender, center field is certainly one of the spots. 

“First base is a spot that we’ve talked about as well. And we’re certainly always looking for left-handed hitting.”

RELATED: What Cody Bellinger signing means for Cubs

Bellinger spent his first six seasons with Los Angeles and burst onto the scene in 2017, earning NL Rookie of the Year and an All-Star nod while finishing ninth in NL MVP voting.

He put together a stellar 2019, winning MVP honors after hitting .305/.406/.629 with 47 home runs and 115 RBIs for the Dodgers. 

Bellinger’s offensive production dipped in the shortened 2020 season, and he dislocated his right (non-throwing) shoulder that postseason celebrating a home run. He later underwent surgery and has not performed well since.

Over the last two seasons, he holds a .193/.256/.355 slash line with 29 homers and 104 RBIs in 239 games.

“The key thing for him is he has his strength back for the first time,” said Scott Boras, Bellinger’s agent, at the Winter Meetings. “So this offseason has been really great for him. He’s feeling much different than he did at the end of last season.”

Assuming his injury issues are behind him, Bellinger could be a classic chance-of-scenery guy and is a bounce-back candidate in 2023.

He’s a two-time All-Star and won a Gold Glove in center field — a position among the Cubs’ top offseason needs — has been solid defensively at first base in his career, and is a good baserunner.

“He’s good — I mean, former MVP,” Cubs manager David Ross said at the Meetings. “He’s got a track record of a lot of success and dynamic defense.

"He’s a really good fit from a perspective of it’s great defense, great base running and a left-handed bat with the potential to have an uptick offensively if that works out.”

Outside of Bellinger, the Cubs reached a four-year deal with starter Jameson Taillon last week. A flurry of their other offseason targets have come off the board, though they remain linked to shortstop Dansby Swanson.

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