Cubs' Bellinger declines option as free agent market takes shape

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Saturday, November 4, 2023

Chicago Cubs slugger Cody Bellinger declined his end of a $25 million mutual option for 2024 on Friday and will test the free agent market coming off a bounce-back season.

The 2019 NL MVP, Bellinger is in line for a huge payday after hitting .307 with 26 homers and 97 RBIs. It was quite a turnaround for a player cut by the Los Angeles Dodgers in November after being limited by injuries and experiencing a drastic decline on offense.

The Cubs signed Bellinger to a $17.5 million, one-year contract, and he helped them stay in playoff contention until late in the year. Chicago finished second in the NL Central at 83-79 after consecutive losing seasons.

Bellinger had a $12.5 million salary this year and gets a $5 million buyout.

The Cubs declined their end of a $5 million mutual option on veteran right-hander Brad Boxberger. He receives an $800,000 buyout.

Boxberger was limited to 22 relief appearances because of a strained right forearm and finished with a 4.95 ERA this season. He had a $2 million salary.

White Sox decline Hendriks option

The Chicago White Sox declined their $15 million club option on closer Liam Hendriks.

The White Sox also said right-hander Mike Clevinger had declined his $12 million mutual option. Veteran outfielders Clint Frazier and Trayce Thompson were outrighted to Triple-A Charlotte.

Hendriks is owed a $15 million buyout that will be paid in 10 equal installments from 2024-33. Clevinger receives a $4 million buyout.

Hendriks, a 34-year-old right-hander, returned in May after beginning the season on the injured list to continue his treatment for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

He could miss the 2024 season after he had surgery in August to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Miley declines option

Left-hander Wade Miley declined his part of a $10 million mutual option for 2024 with the Milwaukee Brewers, as first reported by, making him a free agent.

Miley went 9-4 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts this past season to help the Brewers win the NL Central title. He struck out 79 and walked 38 in 120 innings.

Miley, who turns 37 this month, gets a $1 million buyout. He had a $3.5 million salary this year and earned a $500,000 bonus for innings pitched.

Turner declines option with Red Sox

Justin Turner declined his $13.4 million player option with the Boston Red Sox

Turner signed as a free agent with the Red Sox last offseason, and hit .276 with 23 home runs.

Also, Boston declined right-hander Corey Kluber's club option. The veteran starter made just nine starts in his only season with Boston, sporting a 7.04 ERA.

Carpenter, Lugo make decisions

First baseman Matt Carpenter exercised a $5.5 million option for 2024 in his contract with the San Diego Padres, and reliever Seth Lugo declined a $7.5 million player option.

Carpenter signed a two-year deal last offseason that guaranteed $12 million. The first baseman/designated hitter batted .176 with five homers and 31 RBIs, down from a .315 average with 15 homers and 37 RBIs in 47 games when he revived his career with the New York Yankees in 2022.

A three-time All-Star with St. Louis from 2011-21, the 37-year-old Carpenter has a .260 career average with 175 homers and 644 RBIs.

Lugo, a 33-year-old right-hander, had a $7.5 million salary with San Diego this year and earned $1.25 million in performance bonuses based on starts. He was 8-7 with a 3.57 ERA in 26 starts.

Lugo was with the New York Mets from 2016-22 and has a 40-31 career record with a 3.50 ERA.

Marlins' Soler hits market

Outfielder Jorge Soler, 31, opted out of the final year of his contract with the Miami Marlins to become a free agent, giving up a $13 million salary for 2024.

He agreed before the 2022 season to a three-year contract guaranteeing $36 million.

Soler hit .269 with 36 homers and 75 RBIs this past year, becoming a first-time All-Star. This was his best season since he had an American League-high 48 homers and 117 RBIs for Kansas City in 2019.

Tigers decline retiring Cabrera's option

The Detroit Tigers declined their $30 million option of retiring star Miguel Cabrera and will pay an $8 million buyout that completes a $292 million, 10-year contract.

Half of the buyout is deferred without interest.

A 12-time All-Star and four-time batting champion, Cabrera is a two-time AL MVP. In 2012, he became the first AL Triple Crown winner since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

Narváez sticking with Mets

Mets catcher Omar Narváez exercised a $7 million player option for 2024 rather than become a free agent.

Narváez, 31, hit .211 with two homers and seven RBIs as a backup to rookie Francisco Alvarez. He had an $8 million salary in 2023.

An eight-year major league veteran, Narváez has a .255 average with 53 homers and 198 RBIs for the White Sox (2016-18), Seattle (2019), Milwaukee (2020-22) and the Mets. He was an All-Star with the Brewers in 2022, when he hit .266 with 11 homers and 49 RBIs.

Athletics' Rucinski to hit free agency

Drew Rucinski's $5 million option for next season was declined by the Oakland Athletics, allowing the right-hander to become a free agent.

He missed the start of the season with a strained left hamstring, then was 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA in four starts in a season cut short on May 15 by a stomach illness. He had a $3 million salary.

Rucinski, 34, is 4-8 with a 6.25 ERA in a five-year big-league career that included time with the Los Angeles Angels (2014-2015), Minnesota (2017) and Miami (2018). He pitched in South Korea with the NC Dinos from 2019 to 2022.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.