Saturday, November 11, 2006


Clock ticking for Ramirez, Cubs
November 11, 2006
BY CHRIS DE LUCA Staff Reporter After a relatively dormant stretch in negotiations, talks between Cubs general manager Jim Hendry and the representative for free-agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez moved into overdrive the last 36 hours, with agent Paul Kinzer insisting Friday night the club would get a hometown discount and saying there was a ''50-50 chance'' a deal could be reached by today.
Today also marks the last chance the Cubs have at exclusive rights in dealing with Ramirez. If he isn't signed by today, Ramirez will be free to talk with other teams beginning Sunday. At that point, Kinzer said, Ramirez will be seeking at least a six-year deal.
''If we hit the market, basically, we are looking at six or seven years,'' Kinzer told the Sun-Times. ''Some people have put him as the No. 1 free agent on the market. I certainly feel that way, and obviously I'm biased, but I don't think I'm alone.''
Kinzer said Ramirez would be seeking a contract similar to the seven-year, $119 million package center fielder Carlos Beltran signed with the New York Mets two years ago. That's the range free-agent outfielder Alfonso Soriano -- also high on the Cubs' wish list -- reportedly is seeking.
But Kinzer stressed the Cubs could get Ramirez for less -- even if he hits the open market on Sunday.
''There will be a hometown discount,'' Kinzer said. ''They definitely want to keep him, and that is still his No. 1 choice. Jim knows where we stand.''
Ramirez, 28, hit .291 with 38 home runs and 119 RBI last season. He has averaged 35 home runs and 105 RBI the last three seasons -- all with the Cubs. The four-year, $42 million contract he signed on Opening Day 2005 allowed him to opt for free agency after the 2006 season. Ramirez did just that, walking away from the remaining two years and $22.5 million guaranteed in his contract.
Ramirez's status was a major topic discussed by Cubs officials during their weeklong organizational meetings that wrapped up Friday in Mesa, Ariz.
Kinzer and Hendry had dinner together Thursday in Arizona and were scheduled to have another round of late-night talks Friday over the phone. Kinzer said there has been ''significant'' progress in his negotiations with the Cubs.
Hendry maintained his stance of not commenting on free-agent discussions.
The Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers are also expected to pursue Ramirez if he hits the market on Sunday. Kinzer said he has been contacted by ''about nine teams.''
Kinzer also confirmed he discussed free-agent pitcher Vicente Padilla with Hendry during their dinner meeting.
Padilla, 29, went 15-10 with a 4.50 ERA for the Texas Rangers last season. The right-hander is high on the Cubs' wish list.
Kinzer said Padilla likely will be seeking at least a four-year deal. After earning a career-high 15 victories last season, Padilla is expected to seek a minimum of $10 million annually.
NOTE: Silver Slugger winners for the best hitter at each position were awarded. White Sox third baseman Joe Crede, right fielder Jermaine Dye and Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano were winners.
The award is voted on by managers and coaches.

good news for cub fans in my opinion... it seems he actually wants to stay in chicago and if we can get him for 5-6 years 75 to 85 million range it would be great for cub nation.. like i said before we have to many holes as it is without looking for another 3b in a depleted market. less than 24 hours left to go til free agency, lets see what jimbo can get done