Ramirez agrees to $42 million contract

PHOENIX -- Third baseman Aramis Ramirez and the Chicago Cubs agreed Monday to a $42 million, four-year contract that includes
a mutual option for 2009.

Ramirez batted .318 with 36 homers and 103 RBI last season and
would have been eligible to become a free agent at the end of the
2005 season.

"It's a good feeling knowing that I'm going to be here for four
more years," Ramirez said, "and get this over with and just go
and play baseball."

He can terminate his new deal after 2006 and become a free

"That's just an option, but I don't think I'm going to exercise
that," Ramirez said. "I want to be a Cub for the rest of my

Ramirez gets a $1 million signing bonus plus an $8 million
salary for this season, superseding the $8.95 million, one-year
contract he had agreed to earlier this year. He gets $10.5 million
in 2006, $11 million in 2007 and $11.5 million in 2008.

The contract's fifth year, with an $11 million salary, would
become guaranteed if Ramirez plays 270 games in 2007-08 or can be
exercised by mutual agreement between the player and the club.

Ramirez had wanted a deal done before the opener. Otherwise, he
said, he would not negotiate until the season was over.

"I talked to him about it yesterday," manager Dusty Baker said
before Chicago's opener against Arizona. "He was in a bit of a
turmoil and he expressed how much he wanted to stay and how much he
liked playing for the Cubs and liked playing in Chicago. You like
to hear that -- that a guy's happy where he is and he wants to stay
there. In our minds and in his mind, he's going to get better and

Ramirez, 26, was just 16 when he signed with the Pittsburgh
Pirates in 1994 and reached the majors in 1998. The Pirates traded
him to the Cubs in July 2003.

"He didn't come here with a bad reputation, but it wasn't a
great reputation," Baker said. "He just wanted to win. He's grown
as a player."

Ramirez said the change of teams helped his attitude.

"Just being on a contender, and you mature as a player," he
said. "I made a lot of mistakes. I was young. I came into the
league when I was 19 years old. You mature as a person and as a
player. I think I've done that."

A crucial part of getting the deal done was the opt-out clause.

"For this kind of player, you're much more willing to give him
that chance to opt out halfway through that four-year deal," Cubs
general manager Jim Hendry said, "because he's from day one
expressed nothing but a strong desire to stay here. He's got the
right manager, he's got the right ballpark, he's got the right city
and he's got the right team."