Aramis Ramirez exercises $14.6 million option for 2011

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For a brief moment Aramis Ramirez dropped some hints about possibly declining his $14.6 million player option for 2011, but presumably his agent (or really anyone with a functional brain) took him aside and said something like, “Uh, you just had your worst season since 2002, maybe take the money.”

Ramirez made it official today, exercising the $14.6 million option for 2011 while also forcing the Cubs to either pay him $16 million or a $2 million buyout in 2012. In other words, by exercising his option Ramirez guarantees himself another $16.6 million and also delays free agency by a year to potentially recoup some of the value he’s lost.

He’s obviously never going to get another contract like the five-year, $75 million deal the Cubs gave him in November of 2006, but if Ramirez returns to his pre-2010 levels he’s definitely capable of securing a multi-year deal for a ton of money next winter. In his first six full seasons in Chicago he hit .303/.368/.551 with an average of 35 homers and 115 RBIs per 150 games, and after a horrendous first half this year he quietly hit .276/.321/.526 with 15 homers and 51 RBIs in the second half.

Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name

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The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan report that Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name as recently as December. The fake name is Mason Saunders. Bumgarner explains that “Mason” is shortened from “Madison,” while “Saunders” is his wife’s maiden name.

Bumgarner — err, Saunders — and one of his rodeo partners, Jaxson Tucker, won $26,560 in a team-roping rodeo competition in December. The Rancho Rio Arena posted a picture of the pair on Facebook, highlighting that they roped four steers in 31.36 seconds.

As Baggarly and Buchanan point out, Bumgarner also pointed out in a rodeo competition last March, just a couple days before pitching in a Cactus League game versus the Athletics, back when he was still with the Giants.

Bumgarner suffered bruised ribs and a left shoulder AC sprain in 2017 when he got into a dirt bike accident. Given that, Bumgarner’s latest extracurricular activity does raise a concern for the Diamondbacks, who inked him to a five-year, $85 million contract two months ago. Baggarly and Buchanan asked Bumgarner about such a concern. Bumgarner referred them to the club’s managing partner Ken Kendrick. Kendrick directed them to GM Mike Hazen. Hazen declined speaking about “specific contract language.” For what it’s worth, Bumgarner says he primarily uses his right hand to rope.

The jig is up on Bumgarner’s hobby. He jokingly said to The Athletic’s pair, “I’m nervous about this interview right now.” He added, “I’m upset with both you two.”