Another Set of Contract Projections, and Another Reasonable Price Tag for Cody Bellinger

At The Athletic, Tim Britton endeavored to project free agent contracts based on historical comps, which tends to be the best way to do it (if you can find appropriate comps, of course). We discussed the pitcher projections here, and the positional projections are now out, too.

Obviously your eye will go immediately to Cody Bellinger, whose projected contract remains in the relatively reasonable range: six years and $162 million. Like I’ve said before, I don’t see any reason why Bellinger and Scott Boras won’t be shooting for a deal that starts with a ‘2’, but I just don’t know if they’ll get there (unless there’s a team desperate enough to drive down the AAV that they go to 10+ years).

To be sure, a $27 million AAV on Bellinger is actually pretty darn high, relative to other center field comps who didn’t show the floor that Bellinger did in 2021 and 2022. But (1) Bellinger is younger than other CFs who hit free agency at age-30, (2) Bellinger at least has a plausible health explanation for those two years, and (3) inflation. Bellinger’s deal would be in the very general range of guys like Brandon Nimmo, Jacoby Ellsbury, and George Springer.

That is all to say, I could see Bellinger’s deal landing in that range when all is said and done, though we know his camp may wait things out a bit. The Cubs will stay in touch.

The other big name, of course, is Shohei Ohtani, who gets an EXTENSIVE write-up in the piece. Projection: 12 years and $520 million, which was in part based on a “reasonable” projection of eight years and $360 million, and knowing that some team was going to get “unreasonable” on top of that.

Other projections of note:

  • Matt Chapman, whom we don’t necessarily like as a fit for the Cubs, gets five years and $95 million, which is actually on the lower-end of some of the speculation out there. That AAV is not too bad.
  • Jeimer Candelario gets a whopping four years and $70 million thanks to comps to Mike Moustakas and Melky Cabrera. If that’s really where Candelario’s market goes, the Cubs are highly unlikely to use their resources that way.
  • Our first projection on Korean outfielder Jung-Hoo Lee, who is nearly impossible to project. Britton devised a system for translating KBO performance to MLB performance, comparing guys who already made the transition, and then estimating a contract, which comes out to four years and $56 million for Lee. The Cubs aren’t likely to be in the market for a corner outfielder, even a former KBO MVP who is still young, so I don’t know how much this matters. Still, I find his market really interesting.
  • Jason Heyward, two years and $21 million. My word. I really can’t fathom teams actually buying the well-protected 2023 bounce-back THAT much, but if he can get it, God bless.
  • Tons more in there to check out.

    written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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