Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez is in the middle of his worst full season as a big leaguer, but that hasn't been enough to convince him to exercise his $14.6MM player option for 2011. Ramirez told Paul Sullivan of The Chicago Tribune that he's still unsure if he will pick up the option and return to the Cubs or use this as an opportunity to become a free agent for the first time in his career.
"That's going to be after the season," said Ramirez, referring to when he'll decide what to do with his option. "I don't know exactly when. I haven't talked to my agent about it. That's going to be in the offseason. They've got a lot of other things they have to address. I'm still under contract, so we'll see."
Ramirez said that the new manager, whoever that ends up being, will not be a factor in his decision. He also went out of his way to say that the team has more to worry about than his option, specifically mentioning first base, second base, and the pitching staff.
The 32-year-old has been one of the game's most prolific sluggers over the last half-decade, but he's bottomed out at .243/.297/.454 this year. It's worth noting that he's recovered from a brutally slow start to hit .316/.359/.632 since July 6th, so it's probably too early to write his career obituary just yet.
Ramirez is in the final season of a five-year, $75MM deal he signed after the 2006 season. If he picks up the option, the Cubs would then hold a $16MM option for his services in 2012. Even with his strong second half and track record, it's hard to imagine Ramirez getting $14.6MM for one season on the open market.