Scott Boras wins Round One of Boras Four with Cody Bellinger-Cubs deal

Cody Bellinger ended his free agency on Sunday, as he signed a three-year, $80 million deal with the Cubs.

Cody Bellinger watches the ball sail over the fence in a game against Colorado last season. Bellinger agreed to a three-year $80 million contract with the Cubs, ending his extended free agency status.
Cody Bellinger watches the ball sail over the fence in a game against Colorado last season. Bellinger agreed to a three-year $80 million contract with the Cubs, ending his extended free agency status. / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages

Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts blinked first.

After his prized superstar Cody Bellinger was a free agent at the start of spring training, Ricketts gave in to agent Scott Boras' demand for a player-friendly contract and the two sides agreed to a three-year, $80 million deal to keep Belli in Chicago for a good time, but not a long time.

Bellinger retains the rights to opt out of the contract after the first and second seasons and test free agency once again, making $30 million annually until he makes that decision.

Cubs sign Cody Bellinger to three-year deal

When it appeared as though both sides were at a standstill and that no agreement was in sight, Ricketts and Boras agreed on a deal that appears to be tilted more in Bellinger's favor, but perhaps one that Ricketts can sleep better at night with.

Bellinger is betting on himself and the fact that he will have another MVP-like season and test the free agency waters once again next season. If he has an average season, he will still be paid handsomely. Bellinger is in a no-lose situation. The worst that can happen to RIcketts is that he pays market value for a player for one more season if Bellinger opts to leave after a big campaign. Ricketts could then enter into another negotiation on the longer-term deal that Boras wanted to begin with.

Could Ricketts have wanted Bellinger to prove himself again after batting .307 with 26 home runs and an OPS of .881?

This deal proves that Boras can be open to doing shorter deals that are player friendly, or that put players back in free agency, if situations begin to get sticky. Boras is the king of the six-plus-year deal, and this contract is an aberration from his normal standard.

Bellinger is getting the annual average value that was expected by many, but not the guaranteed additional years that Boras is used to getting. It was projected that Bellinger would sign a six-year contract for just over $160 million, per The Athletic. Therefore, it shows that Boras is open to shorter-term deals if the AAV is roughly what he was looking for in the longer-term pacts. projected a 12-year $264 million contract for Bellinger, but that deal was considered far fetched by many, and it is unknown what caveats would have come with those terms, in particular by way of opt outs and deferrals.

It is interesting to note that Bellinger, who is 28, the same age as another Boras client, Corey Seager was, when he signed a 10-year, $325 million contract with the Texas Rangers two seasons ago. That deal is more Boras like and is in line with what experts predicted for Bellinger. Ricketts was going to have no part of that.

Boras, ideally, would have gotten a four- or five-year contract worth $30 million AAV, but that is pure speculation at this point as to whether or not Ricketts would have gone along with that. Boras got the AAV that he wanted, and Ricketts got the shorter financial commitment that he wanted. I still say that this was a win for Boras due to the opt-out language that Bellinger has after each of the first two years.

Boras has long been considered the best agent in baseball. That is not an opinion held only by players, but also by owners. Owners were constantly having their payroll budgets enhanced by Boras' demands, and many of the contracts that Boras negotiated were record setters. He is not afraid to hold a player out, as in the cases of the remaining Boras Three, left handed-pitchers Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell, along with third baseman Matt Chapman.

The Bellinger signing probably takes the Cubs out of the running for Chapman, as their payroll already exceeds $190 million, which is the second highest in team history. They have Boras to thank in large part for that. They are still $30 million under the luxury cap figure, so they could add players at any time, but it appears unlikely that they would give it all to Chapman.