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.

Astros assistant GM Mike Elias reported to be next Orioles general manager

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Astros assistant GM Mike Elias will be the new general manager of the Orioles “barring a change of heart.”

Elias, 35, has been the Astros’ assistant general manager since August 2016. He had previously served as Houston’s scouting director and, before that, as a scout for the Cardinals. He was part of the team that came over from the Cardinals when Jeff Luhnow joined the Astros.

If he does take the O’s job his work will certainly be cut out for him. Baltimore was historically bad in 2018, finishing 47-115 thanks to a roster full of expensive, past-their-prime players and an underdeveloped farm system. He’ll have to hit the ground running too, as he’ll not join the team until nearly two months into the club’s offseason, having had no time to assess its needs and personnel. Oh, and the Winter Meetings begin in a little over three weeks.