Cody Bellinger is returning to the Cubs on $80 million, 3-year contract

The Cubs had an obvious need for more Cody Bellinger.

Chicago Cubs' Cody Bellinger prepares to bat during the first game of a baseball doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati, Friday, Sept. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster) AP

And, with the news breaking early Sunday morning, Bellinger obviously felt the same about the Cubs.

As first reported by ESPN's Jeff Passan, the Cubs and Bellinger agreed to a three-year, $80 million contract, pending a physical.

The deal gives the 28-year-old Bellinger opt outs at the end of this season and at the end of the 2025 season.

Bellinger is set to make $30 million this year. If he comes back next season, it's another $30 million. If Bellinger sticks with the Cubs for a third season, he'll make $20 million.

That's quite a bit less than the $200-plus million he was rumored to be seeking, but Bellinger still has an opportunity to get a multiyear mega-deal in the future.

As for the Cubs, they get back their best hitter from last season and they didn't have to break the bank to do it.

"We've always been hoping for it,” starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks told reporters Sunday at the Cubs' training camp in Mesa, Ariz. “Not expecting it in any way, but we've known where he's at, we know how much he wanted to be here. To get it figured out for both sides is just so amazing for our ballclub now."

Trying to reestablish himself last season after three straight injury-plagued years with the Dodgers, Bellinger signed a one-year, $17.5 million contract with the Cubs and hit .307/.356/.525 with 26 home runs, 29 doubles, 20 stolen bases and 97 RBI.

From July 1 through the end of the season, the 2019 National League MVP had the most RBI (75) in the major leagues.

While respecting the free agency process, second baseman Nico Hoerner was among many players and fans pulling for Bellinger's return back in mid-January at the Cubs Convention.

“I would love to play with Belli more,” Hoerner said. “He's awesome. I'm super proud of him. Last year was incredible to watch first-hand, from the work he was putting in in January in Arizona and through the entire year. He was pretty much everything you could ask for from a teammate, from his versatility to the different ways he impacts the game on both sides of the ball.”

The Cubs have an obvious need for Bellinger's dangerous left-handed bat, which president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer acknowledged several times through the winter and into spring training.

But Hoyer stayed patient and wound up getting Bellinger back on the roster.

“I think the world of Cody,” Hoyer said. “Obviously, he had a great year and even beyond having a great year for us, he really ingratiated himself well with the city, the fan base, the players.”

Hoyer had to deal with Scott Boras, Bellinger's agent, to get the contract done. That's never an easy task, and Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts didn't sound too positive about Bellinger coming back when speaking to reporters in Arizona last week.

“I'm like everyone else, we're just waiting,” Ricketts said. “We're waiting for whenever he and his agent are going to engage. It could be any time now or it could be in a few weeks. We'll see where it goes. There has been some discussions, but it hasn't become a negotiation yet. Until they are ready to negotiate, there's not much we can do. We just have to wait for when it gets serious before talking about what the end money amounts are.”

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