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Aramis Ramirez Will Decline Option, Become Free Agent

The final year of Aramis Ramirez's contract with the Chicago Cubs is a "mutual option" between the player and the franchise that would pay Ramirez $16 million to man the hot corner for the Cubs for one more year. Well, the Cubs decided to pick up that option, electing not to sift through the heap of trash that is available MLB third basemen. But Ramirez, according to his agent, will decline his end of the bargain, likely bringing an end to his time in Chicago.

"We are very sorry that this era is coming to the end for Aramis and the Cubs," [agent Paul] 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.

(via ESPN Chicago)

If Ramirez has indeed played his final game in Chicago, he will go down with Derek Lee as arguably the best Cub of the 2000s. He will leave the North Side having batted .294/.356/.531 in his time there, with 315 home runs and 1,122 RBI. That OPS of .887 would put him fifth all time in Cubs history to go along with being seventh all time in home runs.

As for the Cubs, it's expected that they'll give top prospect Brett Jackson the opportunity to win the third base job in Spring Training. Jackson, 23, was drafted by the Cubs in the first round of the 2009 draft, and hit .274/.379/.490 with 20 homers between AA and AAA last season.

Stay tuned to SB Nation and SB Nation Chicago for updates on free agency.