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Paul Sullivan: All's well that ends well for Cubs star Cody Bellinger after an offseason of uncertainty

Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

MESA, Ariz. — Cody Bellinger stood in the Chicago Cubs complex Wednesday morning and introduced himself as if he were a new player meeting his teammates for the first time.

Of course, no introductions were needed for the veteran center fielder and first baseman who helped lead the Cubs back from the dead and into a playoff race last summer, only to suffer a late-season collapse that preceded Bellinger declining a $25 million mutual option to enter free agency.

It seemed like Bellinger was one-and-done as a Cub, but as the offseason wore on and he remained unsigned, shortstop Dansby Swanson kept texting President Jed Hoyer to ask for a reunion and Cubs fans began clamoring for a Belli reboot.

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts told reporters on Feb. 19 they were still waiting for agent Scott Boras to get “serious” about discussions, and a three-year, $80 million deal with opt-outs in 2024 and ’25 was agreed to last Saturday.

Bellinger said Wednesday he was “craving baseball” and “beyond excited to get going” in spring training. He continued working out with a personal trainer all winter, did some hitting off his dad, former major league player Clay Bellinger, and remained patient as he enjoyed time with his wife and two young daughters.

“I trusted the process,” he said. “I was in constant communication with Scott over here and understanding what was going on. Super-aware of the situation and constant support from my wife. I was just with my family, and whenever I was ready (to sign), I wanted to be ready (to play). And I feel good right now.”

 

Boras said he was not disappointed Bellinger didn’t get the long-term contract he was seeking and that he told Bellinger “the likelihood of you getting what players with your skills set normally get is probably not going to be there, so you have to have another optimal plan.”

That meant a shorter length deal, with opt-outs. Hoyer said the last 5-7 days before the deal was done they “targeted a deal that made sense for both sides, and at that point we did start making offers and talking more often and getting serious.”

Boras said “close to 15 different teams” called him about Bellinger, but his client desired a return to the Cubs. Asked if any team offered more than a three-year deal, Boras joked “when I go to a wedding, I never talk about the bridesmaids.”

Asked if he got the deal that he desired last November, Bellinger let Boras answer for him.

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