One minute, Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez is quoted as considering the possibility of not picking up his option for 2011. The next thing you know he’s telling the Sun-Times, ”I’m staying here, put it that way.”

This sounds to me like a guy who is working with the Cubs front office to restructure his contract.

Instead of paying Ramirez $14.6 million next year and then buying out his 2010 season for $2 million, perhaps the Cubs are going to extend the deal with more team-friendly, year-to-year salaries while giving Ramirez the longer-term extension he desires.

It had been suggested before that Ramirez was tired of playing on a losing ball club, and that his experience with Lou Piniella was less than helpful.

Meanwhile, Lou is no longer here, and money often speaks louder than any so-called desire to win, so Cubs fans can expect him to be in a Cubs uniform for awhile.

For some, this is good news. After all, when healthy, the man can hit.

But for the others who see a player who can’t stay healthy and will be turning 33 next season, this is unfortunate news.

The real kicker here is not just the injuries this season. Ramirez simply hasn’t performed well offensively. His .296 OBP is just awful, and is his lowest since 2002 with the Pirates.

Yet there is some glimmer of hope.

Post All-Star game, Ramirez has been much better. He is slugging at a .552 clip and his OBP is a weak, yet more career-like .333, thanks mainly to a higher average on balls in play.

When news that Ramirez might be considering rejecting his 2011 option became public, FanGraphs trumpeted a headline asking “Is Aramis Ramirez Insane?”

Well, apparently he found his medicine quickly, for he told Gordon Wittenmyer that he isn’t going anywhere.

And that is sound business logic since the man isn’t going to find an average annual salary of anywhere close to $14 million on the open market.

But he could get a longer-term deal, something he has to weigh the benefits of against the short-term payoff.

Unlike Adrian Beltre, who signed a one-year, “make good” contract with Boston and is now in line for a huge payday in free agency, maybe Ramirez isn’t that confident in his abilities or his health.

FanGraphs puts his projected WAR at a 3.5-4.5 range going forward, which probably makes him worth keeping around despite below average defense.

But this is based on past performance and with this injuries and miserable offensive season in 2010, can he get maintain those levels?

Well, his BABIP is only .244 this season, well below his career average of .288, which suggests some bad luck has plagued Ramirez in 2010.

For Ramirez, it’s a fairly easy decision, or at least it should be. He’s hitting much better at home than on the road and he’s comfortable here. Plus, he would be leaving almost $17 million on the table, counting the buy-out for 2012.

It’s not as easy a decision for the Cubs to swallow, however. Sure, they don’t really have anyone in place to play third base next season if Ramirez leaves. Josh Vitters seems to be regressing down on the farm.

But the Cubs could use the payroll flexibility. They need to add at least one veteran starting pitcher and improve the bullpen, all while not raising the payroll.  

The team also needs to replace Derrek Lee at first base. While some may be hoping for Adam Dunn, it is far more likely that they will go for a cheaper alternative.

According to Cots Baseball Contracts, the Cubs have more than $103 million committed to payroll for 2011. They also will be facing big arbitration raises to players like Carlos Marmol, Geo Soto, and Sean Marshall.

In other words, desperate times call for desperate measures. But those desperate measures apparently do not include saying goodbye to their third baseman.

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