Theo Epstein on Aramis Ramirez: “Likely he’ll be moving on”

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Aramis Ramirez became a free agent by declining his half of a $16 million mutual option and when asked about the third baseman’s odds of re-signing with the Cubs new team president Theo Epstein replied: “Likely he’ll be moving on.”

Not a big surprise, certainly, but prior to Epstein taking over there was some thought that the Cubs would make an effort to re-sign Ramirez on the open market.

Chicago can safely offer Ramirez arbitration knowing he won’t accept, in which case the Type B free agent would bring back a supplemental first-round pick if he signs elsewhere.

Ramirez is 33 years old and pretty questionable defensively at third base, but he’s one of the top bats on the market after hitting .306 with 26 homers and an .871 OPS in 149 games this season. Last season was the only time in the past eight years that Ramirez failed to top an .850 OPS.

Brandon Morrow injured his back taking off his pants

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The Cubs’ bullpen got into trouble in the ninth inning on Tuesday afternoon during the first game of a doubleheader. Justin Wilson started the inning with the Cubs leading 3-2, normally a situation for closer Brandon Morrow. Wilson issued a leadoff walk to Austin Barnes, then gave up a single to Justin Turner. Morrow wasn’t warming up, curiously. Wilson ended up giving up a go-ahead two-run double to pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer and the Cubs went on to lose 4-3.

We now know why Morrow wasn’t available. He says his back tightened up taking off his pants early Monday morning, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports. Morrow said, “It’s frustrating any time you can’t get out there, especially when you can’t go for something as stupid as taking your pants off.”

Morrow, 33, has been terrific in the closer’s role this season for the Cubs. He owns a 1.59 ERA with a 25/9 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings. He is also not available for the back end of Tuesday’s doubleheader, but it sounds like he won’t need to go on the disabled list.