Cubs ink 3B Ramirez to four-year, $44 million deal

Updated: April 4, 2005, 5:39 PM ET

PHOENIX - Aramis Ramirez, one of the keys to Chicago Cubs' chances in 2005, Monday agreed to terms on a four-year, contract extension that could be worth up to $44 million.

Ramirez, who was 10th in the National League Most Valuable Player voting last season, was slated to make $8.95 million this season and would have been eligible for free agency in November.

His new deal also includes an $11 million vesting option for 2010, if he appears in 270 games between 2008-09. The third baseman also has a clause that allows him to option out of the contract after the 2006 season.

"I want to be a Cub for the rest of my life," Ramirez said. "That is why I signed here. I made a lot of mistakes when I was young. I came to the majors when I was 19 years old ... I have learned a lot."

The 26-year-old Ramirez hit .318 with 36 homers and 103 RBIs in 547 at-bats last season. He is a career .273 hitter with 127 homers and 458 RBIs in parts of seven seasons.

"He is a vastly improved defender and he is blossoming into a better player," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "He is at the age where players elevate themselves and go on to do better things. He is one of the best righthanded hitters in baseball right now and is a tremendous breaking ball hitter, which is extremely hard to find."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index