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.

Victor Martinez played his final major league game on Saturday

Victor Martinez
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After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.

In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.

The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.

“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”

Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.360/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.