After keeping Ramirez for $75 million over five years and adding
Soriano, the Cubs are far more optimistic than they were last
month, when they finished the season with the National League's
worst record at 66-96.
"If we get everybody healthy, it's going to be a great
lineup," Ramirez said during a news conference on Tuesday.
Ramirez's contract contains a full no-trade clause for the first
four years and a limited one for 2011. He can opt out after the
2010 season, and the deal contains a mutual option for 2012.
The contract was the richest in club history until the Cubs
agreed Monday to a $136 million, eight-year contract with Soriano.
Soriano -- one of five players to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in one season -- will be at the top of the order, and Ramirez
and 2005 NL batting champion Derrek Lee figure to provide run
production in the middle. The Cubs, without a World Series title
since 1908, think they have enough power to compete in the NL
Central -- although their starting rotation must be improved.
The Cubs' re-established commitment to winning convinced Soriano to sign.
"I had offers from seven or eight teams, but the determination the Cubs showed to win the World Series was what really influenced my final decision," Soriano told Dominican radio station Rumba 98.5. "Cubs fans deserve a winner and the team is working to make that happen soon, and I want to be a part of it."
Besides re-signing Ramirez and acquiring Soriano, the Cubs
signed second baseman Mark DeRosa ($13 million over three years)
and re-signed pitchers Kerry Wood ($1.75 million) and Wade Miller
($1.5 million), and backup catcher Henry Blanco ($5.25 million over
two years). They also acquired left-handed reliever Neal Cotts in a
trade with the White Sox.
All those moves came after Andy MacPhail resigned as president
and Lou Piniella replaced Dusty Baker as manager.
"Management and Lou Piniella have a clear idea of what should be done in order to win," Soriano told Rumba 98.5. "Piniella's presence as the new manager was one of the reasons I chose the Cubs."
Said Ramirez: "That's what happens when the GM gets aggressive, when people
get aggressive, when you get tired of losing. You've got to show the fans that you want to win."
Ramirez struggled early last season after Lee broke a wrist, but
hit .328 after the All-Star break with 22 homers and 67 RBI.
Although he opted out of the final two years of a $42 million,
four-year contract, Ramirez said he never considered leaving.
Acquired in a trade with Pittsburgh midway through the 2003
season, Ramirez has hit .298 with 120 homers and 353 RBI in
three-plus seasons with the Cubs.
One knock on him is a lack of hustle at times, but general
manager Jim Hendry pointed out Ramirez has been bothered by groin
and hamstring problems.
"He did play hurt," Hendry said. "There were times that Dusty
would rather live with him maybe not jumping out of the gate and
running hard than pull it again. I don't think [hustle] has been a
problem. I think he's excited about what's going on."
Hendry also suggested the Soriano deal might not have happened
without re-signing Ramirez.
"He mentioned to Lou and I on at least two different occasions
that he thought Aramis and Lee were great players, and he felt like
if he came here, the lineup was going to be terrific," Hendry
For now, Soriano figures to be the Cubs' center fielder, but he
could be moved to another outfield spot before the season opener.
"I couldn't promise him what spot he'd play," Hendry said.
"He wanted to stay in the outfield; that wasn't a hard promise. We
wanted him to lead off. I told him that, and that made him real
Information from The Associated Press and Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com was used in this report.