It sure sounds like Aramis Ramirez has played his last game at Wrigley Field as a Cub.
Ramirez left tonight's game against the Brewers with a strained quad, which will likely keep him out of tomorrow's home finale. And it doesn't sound like he's expecting to be back on the team next year:
Ramirez left the game with a mild quad strain, and was asked if it was his last game here.
"Probably," he said. "There's a good chance. I'm a free agent and I don't know what's going to happen. But it looks like I'm going to hit the market."
The Cubs hold a $16 million option on Ramirez. He said he wants to return, but "we haven't heard anything" from the Cubs.
"I think we're ready to move on," he said.
Source: Chicago Tribune
It's been considered unlikely that Ramirez would be back for a number of reasons. For one, while he's by far the best hitter on the team, $16 million is a lot to pay a guy that will be 34 next June and has been arguably the worst defensive third baseman in all of baseball this season. The Cubs have the worst defense in baseball, so surely they'd like better defense coming from the hot corner.
Additionally, ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine recently said that Tom Ricketts wants the Cubs spending more on pitching than position players. And that certainly would be a good idea when you consider that the only good starting pitcher guaranteed to be in next year's rotation is Matt Garza. The Cubs need to find an ace(C.J. Wilson would be ideal), or at least a couple of #3 types in the near future to compete with the Brewers and Cardinals in the division.
And if the Cubs did choose to spend money on position players, they'd probably want to throw money at a Prince Fielder rather than an Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez wants a multi-year deal(even if the Cubs exercise the $16 million option, he can/would opt out). The Cubs, a team building for the future, aren't going to give him that when you consider he'll be in his upper 30s by the time the contract is up.
So, while Ramirez's run-producing bat in the middle of the order is sure to be missed next season, it's probably best for both sides to part ways, which Ramirez seems to understand as well.
Now, if Ramirez is indeed gone, who will replace him at third base? Well, they're not going to find anywhere close to a "replacement" at the position offensively. Josh Vitters, 22, can hit, but he's yet to develop enough patience to be considered an everyday starter at the big league level, at least in my opinion. And outside of Ramirez, there's not going to be any clearly attractive options in free agency.
Therefore, the Cubs will surely explore the trade market for a solution, and will probably just find a guy that can be a decent short-term option. That will allow them to evaluate Vitters or other prospects for another season, and perhaps a more attractive option will present itself on the free agency/trade market next offseason than what they'll find this offseason.
Get The Latest Blogfines Updates By Following Us On Twitter.