Aramis Ramirez, who has manned third base for the Chicago Cubs for the last nine and half years, has declared that he will play elsewhere next season. But if the fish are not biting, could Ramirez return to  the North Side in 2012?

Without a doubt, Ramirez makes the Cubs a whole lot better. After hitting .306 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI in 2011, Ramirez has proven that he still can produce the numbers of an elite third baseman. While he isn’t the greatest fielder in the world, his batting outweighs his poor fielding, and he is still the best option.

If new Cubs’ president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer decide that they will not spend over the top this winter, perhaps spending a little extra to bring back Ramirez will be within their payroll. There is no doubt that Ramirez will be much cheaper then a player such as Prince Fielder, but Ramirez’s age (33) definitely causes hesitation to handing out anything long term.

Ramirez has been a consistently productive hitter when healthy, and when he plays his best there are not many third baseman who hit better then him. If the Cubs decide they want to stick with their farm talent, then Ramirez may be a good option over the next couple of years.

While prospect Josh Vitters will have his chance to show what he can do this spring, there is just no guarantee that he will produce. His numbers also indicate that he will not put up anything close to what Ramirez does.

While Ramirez and his agent continue to stand tall on their decision to not return to Chicago, perhaps once free agency really kicks off, the two parties will discuss and find a way to make things happen and keep Ramirez in Chicago.

There is no doubt that Ramirez’s asking price will be high, but he will likely come at no greater price then many other players the Cubs would target if they were to try and find a replacement. Being the best third baseman on the market, his price remains to be seen.

On the other hand, the Cubs just may not spend at all, and they could decide that Ramirez is a piece they can live without. If the Cubs don’t sign a guy like Fielder, though, they will be left without a power hitter. Alfonso Soriano just isn’t a consistent option.

If the Cubs want a power hitter but have no intentions of breaking the bank, they need to sit down with Ramirez and hammer things out. There is no doubt that they need him to have some life in 2012.

Otherwise, the North Side may look drastically different this coming season without Ramirez manning third.


Jeff Chase is from Chicago and is an undergrad at Arizona State University. He currently is interning with B/R and is in process of becoming a Featured Columnist for Arizona State football.

More Cubs Articles by Jeff Chase:

Cubs with the Most Trade Value

Could DeMarlo Hale be the Next Boston Piece to Join Cubs?

Should Epstein Target James Loney?

Cubs Rivalry Steal Could be Mark Buehrle

Evaluating the Cubs Options at First

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