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Chicago Cubs and outfielder Cody Bellinger sign a one-year, $17.5 million contract

The Chicago Cubs and outfielder Cody Bellinger have agreed to a one-year, $17.5 million contract, sources told on Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ 27-year-old center fielder Bellinger maintained his Gold Glove-caliber defense and plus baserunning speed last season, but he continued to struggle offensively.

After hitting.305/.406/.629 with 47 home runs, 115 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases during the 2019 season, he was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player and was worth 7.7 FanGraphs wins above replacement. However, Bellinger has only batted .203/.272/.376 over the course of 295 regular-season games since then. From 2020 to 2022, his.648 OPS placed him 299th among the 338 qualified players.

From the winter meetings, Cubs manager David Ross stated on Tuesday, “He’s a really good fit from a perspective of it is great defense, great base running, left-handed bat with the potential to have an uptick offensively,”

After being non-tendered by the Dodgers following the 2022 season, Bellinger entered the market for free agents earlier than expected. In 2023, he was expected to earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $18 million.

After losing stars like Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Kyle Schwarber in recent seasons, the Cubs are attempting a quick roster retooling. While he tries to recoup his value at the plate, Bellinger provides them with a solid glove in center field.

He is probably seen as a backup for Pete Crow-Armstrong, a prospect they acquired from the New York Mets in exchange for Baez in 2021. Bellinger could assist the Cubs in reaching the postseason for the first time since 2018 if they field a team that competes. If they don’t do well, Bellinger could be traded before the July 31 deadline to make room for Crow-Armstrong. The Cubs will have wasted $17.5 million if he continues to struggle, but at least it will only be for one season.

Scott Boras, Bellinger’s agent, stated earlier on Tuesday that he was receiving multiyear offers for Bellinger but wanted a one-year contract so that he could reenter free agency after the 2023 season, if he performs better than in previous seasons.

In 2021, Bellinger’s batting average dropped to.165. He had 19 home runs and a batting average of.210 during the Dodgers’ 111-win campaign, which set a franchise record.

Bellinger has hit.248 with 152 home runs, 422 RBIs, and 62 stolen bases in six MLB seasons, all with Los Angeles. The two-time All-Star was named NL Rookie of the Year in 2017 and NLCS MVP in 2018, respectively, and in 2020, he was awarded a World Series ring.

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