I’m a little behind on this news due to some other goings-on, so this will be only long enough to note the two very obvious moves. As expected, Cody Bellinger has declined his portion of a $25 million mutual option for 2024 and will instead earn a $5 million buyout and become a free agent. The Cubs declined their end of Brad Boxberger‘s $5 million mutual option and now owe him an $800,000 buyout. These moves put the 40-man roster at 35 after Jared Young, Jeremiah Estrada, and Nick Budi were outrighted.
The Cubs will now extend a qualifying offer to Bellinger in order to benefit if he chooses to sign elsewhere. The resultant penalties shouldn’t hurt the NL Comeback Player’s market, as he’s the top position player this winter not named Shohei Ohtani. Opinions vary as to how much Bellinger is going to fetch, but a lot of folks think he could end up getting around $200 million.
If the bidding indeed goes that high, it’s hard to see the Cubs being involved. I don’t blame them either, as I am a little concerned about how Bellinger’s offense will age given his anemic batted-ball data from this past season. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
This offseason was already going to be fun to follow, but things got even more interesting with the news that Marcus Stroman has opted out of the third year of his deal. Fasten those seatbelts, it feels like this could be a turning point.