"I've been here eight years," Ramirez said Tuesday. "Everybody knows I've always liked playing here. I would love to stay here. This is where I want to be."
With the Cubs' lack of run producers in the minor leagues at third base, exploring a two- or three-year deal for Ramirez is a plausible scenario. Ramirez said "of course" a multiyear deal would be all right with him.
"I don't know how long I want to play," Ramirez said. "But I want to win, so I probably will give myself a little more time. But I'd like to do it here with the Cubs."
Ramirez's present contract, a five-year, $75 million deal he signed in fall 2006, gives both the Cubs and Ramirez the option to renew at $16 million for the 2012 season. If the Cubs reject the option, Ramirez will receive $2 million in severance. If he is traded, he will receive a $1 million bonus and the option for 2012 automatically vests. It was incorrectly reported by ESPNChicago.com that Ramirez's option for 2012 would not vest if he is traded.
Although he has always stated his preference to remain a Cub, Ramirez, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, seemed to leave the door open to the possibility he'd accept a deal Monday.
"Right now, I'm staying here," he said before Monday's game. "For now."
Statistically, Ramirez is a top-hitting third baseman. Beginning June 30 of last year, he's hit .290 with 29 home runs and 100 RBIs in a 162-game span. His numbers during that time are the third-best in baseball behind Alex Rodriguez and Adrian Beltre.
That sample size of Ramirez's numbers suggests he is still at the top of his game. However, there are other considerations to be examined.
Ramirez, who will earn $15 million this season, will be 34 in 2012. Also, in the past two years, his power numbers have been extremely low in April and May. The difference between those seasons is that in 2011, Ramirez hit for average in those early months. Last year he hit .165 for the first 2½ months.
Throughout baseball, there is a dearth of power-hitting third basemen, making it likely Ramirez could get a three-year deal with any number of big-market teams this offseason.
Also, the Marlins will be spending money on free agents this offseason for the first time since 1997, as they prepare to open their new ballpark in 2012.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.