It took a while for Cody Bellinger to find a new home in the majors after he was non-tendered by the Los Angeles Dodgers in November. Bellinger ultimately put pen to paper on a one-year, $17.5 million deal with the Chicago Cubs in December. The contract agreement includes a mutual option for the 2024 season.
Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer did not sign Bellinger with the expectation that the versatile outfielder would be able to mirror his 2019 campaign, where he won the 2019 National League MVP Award and also earned a Gold Glove Award. At the least, Hoyer is hoping to see Bellinger play at an “All-Star-caliber” level.
“Expecting him to have an 1.000 OPS and play Gold Glove center field, that’s hard for anybody,” Hoyer said during a recent appearance on the New York Post’s ‘The Show’ podcast. “But the hope is that he gets back to being an All-Star-caliber player, gets back to being an unbelievable talent at age 27 that he is. And he’s working unbelievably hard.”
The Cubs entered the offseason with an eye on bolstering their outfield, and Hoyer zoned in on Bellinger after it became clear to him that the two-time All-Star wanted to sign off on a one-year prove-it deal.
“One of the things that made me really happy in the process was that it was very clear the minute we expressed interest after he was non-tendered is that he wanted a one-year deal in a place where he felt like he could reestablish his value,” Hoyer said.
“That was important to me, not looking at a multi-year deal — ‘I believe in myself. I want to go to a place where I can have success.’ And I felt really good in the process that we could be that place. I think it’s a great ballpark for him. … Both of our hitting coaches were with the Dodgers, and he knew those guys in the minor leagues. So, we had some reasons for him to be comfortable here.”
Bellinger had quite a roller-coaster six-year run with the Dodgers. He is coming off of a 2022 season where he recorded 19 home runs and 68 RBI for the reigning National League West champions, as he managed to bounce back from his sluggish 2021 campaign.