Nobody has anything close to a consensus on free agent Cubs CF/1B Cody Bellinger. There isn’t a consensus on whether the Cubs are seriously involved (seems like they won’t be any time soon), and there isn’t a consensus on what kind of payday he’s looking at this offseason.
We’ve seen predictions in the six or seven-year, $150 million range, and we’ve also seen predictions scale way up to 12 years and more than $250 million. It’s hard business figuring out exactly what a top free agent will land in the open market, but it’s usually not QUITE this disparate.
And you can add more wildly different projections from one article. They kind of run the gamut, so it’s a handy reference point, actually.
Jon Heyman annually endeavors to predict contracts, together with a couple anonymous industry experts. Look at this range of three predictions for Cody Bellinger: “Expert 1: $220M, 8 years. Expert 2: $150M, 6 years. (Heyman): $240M, 8 years.”
I’d imagine Scott Boras is loving Heyman’s prediction for his client, which is very much at the higher end on BOTH the total guarantee and the average annual value. Meanwhile, one of the experts isn’t actually all that far off, though still somewhere in the middle of the extremes. The other expert makes a prediction we’ve seen before at the low end, which is a relatively clean $25 million deal annually for six years.
It’s not hard to understand why the predictions on Bellinger are so wildly divergent. The pros are super pro (he’s only 28, he plays great defense, he hit very well this past season, and he was previously an MVP), and the cons are super con (he was a disaster in 2021-22, he’s had injury issues, and his contact quality metrics this year were kinda terrible). It is hard to predict what player you’re getting for the next six to ten years, and thus it’s pretty hard for teams to come up with an appropriate price tag. My guess is there are teams that value him a one end of a very large spectrum, and some other teams that value you way at the other end.
It’s a recipe for a long, protracted, typically-Boras-type free agent process. That means we keep coming back to something that just feels right: if Cody Bellinger signs soon, it’ll be because some team went nuts (and that team won’t be the Cubs); if the process drags out into January/February, it’s possible the Cubs’ offseason will have played out in such a way that they’ll want to engage. But they’d probably be looking more at the late-offseason bargain opportunity, rather than signing up to whatever deal Boras has been holding out for. That’s why you can’t really have much confidence at the moment that Bellinger and the Cubs will be getting back together when all is said and done.