Agent: Aramis Ramirez to be free agent

The Chicago Cubs have picked up the one-year, $16 million option on Aramis Ramirez's contract, but Ramirez will turn down the option and declare for free agency, according to his agent Paul Kinzer.

"We are very sorry that this era is coming to the end for Aramis and the Cubs," Kinzer said. "He loves Chicago and the fans. They've been great to him, but at this point it's better that we check out the market and address free agency.

"(The percentage of Ramirez returning to the Cubs is) probably not good. At this point, Aramis is looking for a multiyear deal and looking forward to being a free agent for the first time in his career. It's too difficult for me to say whether the Cubs would be interested in giving him a long-term contract."

The Cubs had two choices, either pick up the option or pay Ramirez a $2 million buyout in 2012.

By offering the contract, the Cubs will be able to offer arbitration, which in turn brings them a second-round draft pick in the June 2012 draft if Ramirez signs elsewhere. In essence, the first move by team president Theo Epstein will save the team $2 million on the buyout.

Kinzer met with team chairman Tom Ricketts and interim general manager Randy Bush on Sept. 21 at Wrigley Field. In that meeting, Kinzer was told that resolving Ramirez's contract status would have to wait until a new baseball executive was hired to replace Jim Hendry. Epstein was named president of baseball operations on Oct. 21.

Compensation for free agents is based on a player composite of stats for the previous two years, compared to the rest of the league at that position. Due to a .241 batting average in 2010, Ramirez was classified as a Type B free agent. A Type A free agent would have brought the Cubs a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of the draft.

Ramirez led the Cubs in RBIs (93), OPS (.871) and extra-base hits in 2011.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com.