There is a mutual $16 million option for next season, and Ramirez has said he wants to stay with the Cubs, but also has indicated he wants a multiyear deal.
"The door is still open, but at this point, we'll explore free agency," agent Paul Kinzer told the Chicago Tribune. "If [the Cubs] want to make an offer, they'll be on his short list."
Kinzer said if the Cubs exercise the option, Ramirez will decline it.
"That's not going to happen," Kinzer said. "He's 33 and not looking for a one-year deal."
After Wednesday's game, Ramirez said he knew he would become a free agent.
"It looked that way, because of the situation in the front office," he said. "I knew it wasn't a good [possibility] because we don't have a GM, and we haven't heard from [the Cubs] the whole time. I knew nothing was going to come of it."
The Cubs dismissed Jim Hendry last month, and chairman Tom Ricketts has yet to name a new GM. If Ramirez is gone, then Wednesday was his last home game with the Cubs. He watched from the bench, nursing a strained quad.
What are the odds of him coming back to the Cubs?
"I don't know right now," Ramirez said. "Once I hit the market, I'll have a better idea of what's going on. The chances to come back here don't look real good right now."
If the Cubs are in rebuilding mode, then the chance of Ramirez returning is even slimmer.
"I can't be here for a rebuilding process," the third baseman said. "I'm not that kind of player. I'm 33, I don't know how much longer I want to be playing. I know it's hard to win, but you have to be able to compete, and that's what I want to do."
That said, Ramirez also feels he can play three to four more years. He said the Cubs were able to rebound from a 96-loss season in 2006 to win the National League Central in '07. The team went on a $300 million spending spree that offseason.
"We have to wait and see what the Cubs want to do first," Ramirez said about testing the market. "This is my priority to stay here. Like I said, they have to show me they're going to be better. That's the bottom line."