Cubs slugger Bellinger declines $25M option for 2024, will test market after bounce-back season

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 30: Cody Bellinger #24 of the Chicago Cubs looks on in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field on September 30, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Matt Dirksen/Getty Images)

Chicago Cubs slugger Cody Bellinger declined his end of a $25 million mutual option for 2024 on Friday as expected 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.