I mean, maybe there is always one free agent every offseason who MLB experts, analysts, reporters and fans can’t agree to some extent on what their contracts will be, but it’s still surprising to me how wild these Cody Bellinger predictions range in value. For starters, he’s the top hitter in free agency not named Shohei Ohtani, but some of these predictions are $100 million apart.
The latest set of predictions comes from Jon Heyman in the New York Post. He’s been posting annual free agent contract projections for years and he’ll add two opinions of experts to go along with his projections. Even in these guesses, the range is gigantic.
Via the New York Post.
Expert 1: $220M, 8 years. Expert 2: $150M, 6 years. Me: $240M, 8 years.
Bellinger, 28, had a great rebound season with the Cubs, ending 2023 as one of the best hitters in the National League, slashing .307/.356/.525, with 26 home runs in 130 games. He accomplished his goal of resetting his value after he was non-tendered by the Los Angeles Dodgers following two brutal seasons. Bellinger made $17.5 million during his one season with the Cubs and has declined the qualifying offer from the Cubs.
There has been a lot of talk about Bellinger’s contact quality, how sustainable his two-strike success will be and well, teams will probably point to his 2021 and 2022 seasons to drive the price down in negotiations. So, I do get why there may not be a consensus on a smaller range of total guaranteed money, but normally that would be a $20 million difference. Offseason predictions for Bellinger, while most are in the mid-$100 million spot, a few are now well over $200 million.
Cody Bellinger Free Agent Contract Predictions
MLB Trade Rumors: 12 Years, $264 Million
Jon Heyman (New York Post): 8 Years, $240 Million
Heyman Expert 1: 8 Years, $220 Million
Matthew Pouliot (NBCS): 6 Years, $168 Million
Tim Britton (Athletic): 6 Years, $162 Million
Ben Clemens (FanGraphs): 6 Years, $150 Million
Heyman Expert 2: 6 Years, $150 Million
Kiley McDaniel (ESPN): 7 Years, $147 Million
Fangraphs crowd: 6 Years, $144 Million
Jim Bowden (Athletic): 6Years, $144 Million
So, the main outlier remains MLB Trade Rumors, which predicted a 12-year, $264 million deal, but that does come out to an average annual value of $22 million. Heyman’s latest prediction would have Bellinger making $30 million a year, which is new high bar among these prognostications.
Finally, Heyman remains one of the few MLB insiders who is still giving the Cubs a good shot at signing Bellinger this offseason. Earlier this week, MLB.com and MLB Network’s Jon Morosi said the Cubs have other priorities than Bellinger, while USA Today’s Bob Nightengale said he doesn’t believe there will be a reunion in Chicago.
I will remain thinking that Belinger will be one of the later players to sign this offseason because his market might take some time to grow. Also, consider that Jon Heyman does seem to have a close link to Bellinger’s agent Scott Boras, and it’s very likely that he made his prediction based on insight from what Bellinger’s camp believes will end up being his value in free agency.
If the final number does end up being well north of $200 million, then I find it hard to believe that it will come from the Cubs for Bellinger.