Aramis Ramirez will return to Cubs

Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez informed the team on Wednesday that he has declined the option in his contract to become a free agent and will return to the Cubs in 2011.

Ramirez, who will be playing in the final year of a five-year, $75 million contract, had to inform the Cubs within five days of the end of the World Series whether he would become a free agent.

If Ramirez, 32, would have accepted the option to become a free agent, it would have voided his $14.6 million contract for 2011. The Cubs hold an option on Ramirez in 2012 for $15 million. The Cubs must pay Ramirez a $2 million buyout if they do not pick up that option.

Plagued by a slow start and injuries, Ramirez batted .241 with 25 home runs and 83 RBIs last season.

Bruce Levine covers baseball for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.