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Zambrano’s Future Uncertain, Ramirez All But Gone

Pitcher Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs reacts after throwing a pitch that got him ejected from the game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on August 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

Pitcher Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs reacts after throwing a pitch that got him ejected from the game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on August 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

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(CBS) Now that the new regime of Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod have officially taken over the halls of Wrigley Field, it’s time to get down to work.

First, Epstein and Hoyer must decide what to do with troubled pitcher Carlos Zambrano and the $19 million left on his contract.

“I have had conversations with Carlos Zambrano’s representative. That was an enlightening conversation,” Epstein said during Hoyer and McLeod’s introductory press conference. “I’ve sat down with a number of the guys that have been here, working alongside Carlos throughout his career — that was also enlightening.

“I think now it’s just a matter of processing the information, putting it together, following up directly with Carlos and seeing what’s best for the Cubs. That’s ultimately what’s most important.”

Earlier in the week, the Cubs elected to pick up the option on third baseman Aramis Ramirez’s contract. Ramirez, however, chose not to exercise his half of the option, leaving him a free agent.

While Epstein didn’t completely rule out the chance of Ramirez returning to the Cubs, he made is seem as though it was more than a long shot.

“He had a terrific career with the Cubs while he was here,” Epstein said. “I know there were some things being debated publically a little while back. In my talks with (assistant GM Randy Bush) and with Mike Quade and the guys in the organization this week, Aramis was a great contributor while he was here — sometimes in ways that didn’t become immediately apparent to the fans and media. He was somebody who played hurt and did a lot of those things behind the scenes that helped contribute to the Cubs. So we wish him well in the future. I wouldn’t rule anything out, but I will say that given his position as the top free-agent third baseman, I think it’s certainly a likelihood that another team will make him a contract that appeals to him. To sit here at the onset of free agency and rule anything completely out, I don’t think that’s productive, but reading the tea leaves, it seems likely that he’ll be moving on and we’ll be looking for a new solution at third.”