Yankees’ former top centerfield free agent target takes a much smaller deal than expected

mlb: game two-chicago cubs at cincinnati reds, cody bellinger, yankees, mets
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Before the Yankees managed to secure Juan Soto’s services, they were heavily linked to Chicago Cubs outfielder Cody Bellinger.

Bellinger made perfect sense for the Yankees at 28 years old, but he wanted a long-term contract extension at maximum value, and coming off an elite season certainly suggested it was possible. However, teams around the league saw the red flags and concerns, given Bellinger was coming off two lackluster seasons, posting below-average metrics prior to the 2023 breakout.

Cody Bellinger’s Contract with the Cubs

Because of those concerns, Bellinger ended up signing a deal far less than he initially imagined, inking a three-year, $80 million contract to stay with a Chicago Cubs on early Sunday morning.

The deal includes $30 million for the 2024 and 2025 seasons and $20 million in 2026. He also has two opt-outs at his disposal after the first and second years of the deal.

At that price, he will earn $26.6 million on average, in line with his desired AAV, but many believed he would earn $25+ million on an eight or nine-year contract.

It is safe to say the Yankees made the right decision and avoided the potential downside.

READ MORE: Yankees’ Blake Snell rumors put to bed by astronomical price-tag

Yankees’ Strategic Acquisitions

Instead, general manager Brian Cashman acquired Soto, a Hall of Fame level bat at just 25 years old. He also landed Alex Verdugo from the Boston Red Sox to take over in left field full-time. The team got significantly better and didn’t have to spend too much in the process, aside from sending prospects and a few MLB-ready players.

However, both Soto and Verdugo are in the final year of arbitration, so the Yankees will have to make some decisions in 2025, whereas Bellinger is locked in for three years if he doesn’t take the outs.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: