Aramis Ramirez declines mutual option, becomes free agent

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Desiring another multiyear contract at age 33, Aramis Ramirez declined his half of a mutual option to remain with the Cubs on Sunday, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Ramirez would have made $16 million under the terms of the option. His decision means the Cubs are off the hook for a $2 million buyout they would have had to pay had they declined their half of the option. It also puts them in position to recoup two draft picks this winter, as Ramirez is unlikely to accept an arbitration offer.

Ramirez rebounded from a poor 2010 to hit .306/.361/.510 with 26 homers and 93 RBI in 565 at-bats last season. He rates as the top third baseman in a weak free agent class also set to include Wilson Betemit, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Mark DeRosa and a question mark in Casey Blake.

The Angels, Rockies, Tigers, Brewers, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Indians and Marlins are among the teams that could consider adding a third baseman this winter.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.