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Aramis Ramirez: Free agency likely

CHICAGO -- Aramis Ramirez believes his career as a Chicago Cub soon may come to an end.

With his status uncertain after leaving Tuesday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers with a mild right quad strain in the seventh inning, the third baseman was asked if it might have been the last game he ever plays as a Cub at Wrigley Field.

"Yeah, there is a good chance. I'm a free agent," said Ramirez, whose Cubs play their final home game Wednesday. "I don't know what's happening, but it looks like I'm going to hit the market."

Ramirez wasn't in Wednesday's lineup, but before the game he reiterated that he doesn't want to be part of a rebuilding process with the Cubs.

"I'm not that kind of player anymore. I'm 33. I don't know how much longer I'm going to play," Ramirez said. "I know it's hard to win, but I want to compete. That's what I want to do."

Ramirez's agent, Paul Kinzer, told ESPNChicago.com that he will meet with Cubs interim general manager Randy Bush on Wednesday about Ramirez's future. Kinzer confirmed that Ramirez will seek a three-year contract.

"I don't know if he has the kind of power to sign a big free agent, at least right now," Ramirez said Wednesday. "I don't know what they're going to talk about. All I know is he was going to talk. He wanted to meet with Kinzer.

"It might not be to talk about me, because there are four or five other players who Paul represents. I'll know more after they meet today. Right now, I don't know what to expect."

Although Ramirez isn't sure Bush has the authority to finalize a deal, he knows chairman Tom Ricketts can keep him in the organization if that is his intent.

"He's the boss," Ramirez said. "If he wants to keep a player, he can. But that's the GM's job to do. However if he's the owner, if he wants somebody, he has the power to do it."

Ramirez continued to maintain he wants to stay in Chicago, but only if improvement is imminent.

"We were the worst team in 2006, and in 2007 we went to the playoffs," he said. "So you can get better if you want to. But you have to go out and get some quality players. It's my priority to stay here, but they have to show me they want to be better. "

Ramirez, who, along with Kinzer, has a strong relationship with former general manger Jim Hendry, said he has not spoken with Ricketts about his future.

Ramirez is in the last year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in November 2006 with the Cubs. They hold a $16 million option for 2012, but Ramirez also can opt out and become a free agent. The contract language states that if the Cubs fail to pick up the 2012 option, they will owe him a $2 million buyout.

Ramirez has insisted from the beginning of the season that he would like to stay with the Cubs.

"That's what I've said all along," Ramirez said. "But it doesn't look that way right now."

Ramirez has played more consecutive seasons (eight-plus) with the Cubs than anyone on the roster other than pitcher Carlos Zambrano. He leads the Cubs in batting average (.306) and RBIs (92) and is one of two Cubs to have five seasons with at least 30 doubles and 25 home runs (Billy Williams).

Ramirez believes he has a few years left in his career.

"I think I can do it," Ramirez said. "I think I can play three more years. We'll look at my situation and see what happens."

Ramirez was acquired by the Cubs in July 2003 in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ramirez's best Cubs season came in 2006, when he batted .291 with 38 home runs and 119 RBIs.

If Ramirez does hit the open market, he figures to be at the top of the list among free-agent third basemen.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.