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Cubs’ Aramis Ramirez clears up no-trade stance (sort of)

Aramis Ramirez grimaces as he strikes out for second out 9th inning as Chicago White Sox defeated Chicago Cubs 4-3

Aramis Ramirez grimaces as he strikes out for the second out of the 9th inning as the Chicago White Sox defeated the Chicago Cubs 4-3 in game three of the Crosstown Classic Wednesday June 22, 2011 at US Cellular Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 2, 2011 12:45AM

ST. LOUIS — The Cubs didn’t have any more trades in the works as they headed into the final full day before the non-waiver trading deadline at 3 p.m. Sunday.

About the only thing anybody claimed to know for sure was that Aramis Ramirez was going nowhere, despite suggestions Thursday that he might be open to waiving his no-trade rights for the right deal.

On Friday, he said those comments were ‘‘misunderstood.’’

‘‘My point was, I’m not on the market, as far as I know,’’ Ramirez said, referring to a conversation with general manager Jim Hendry before the All-Star break — and a similar conversation between them Thursday night after the tweets hit the fan. ‘‘We had a great talk, and we’re on the same page. I want to stay here, and he wants me here.’’

So what happens if somebody calls the Cubs asking about him and Hendry takes the information to Ramirez?

‘‘Well, that has to happen first,’’ Ramirez said. ‘‘After that happens, we’ll see what’s going on.’’

Which is basically what he said Thursday.

The bottom line is, he’ll still be with the Cubs when the deadline passes. But the bigger picture — and maybe the source of the apparent confusion — is two-fold:

† Ramirez wants to make sure he’s not part of a deep rebuilding project by the Cubs — referred to by his agent as ‘‘gutting’’ the team — which neither Ramirez nor Hendry anticipates.

† And he wants a chance to stay on a multiyear extension beyond this season, especially if Hendry — with whom Ramirez has a strong relationship — is still running the team.

That could make him one of the first pieces in whatever level of rebuilding is coming after this season.

‘‘My first priority is being here,’’ Ramirez, 33, said. ‘‘I want to be here. But after this year, they have to want me here. They have to re-sign me back, and if they don’t do it, I have to explore my options. But my first option is to stay here.’’

Ramirez, one of the hottest hitters in baseball for more than a month, figures to be a heavily pursued free agent if the Cubs don’t exercise the $16 million option they have on him for 2012. But assuming his relationship with the club and the tone of conversations remain consistent through the end of the season, that option year has a chance to be renegotiated into a multi-year extension.

Ramirez’s agent, Paul Kinzer, said that would be ideal for Ramirez wherever he’s playing next year.

‘‘At his age, you aren’t looking to go year-to-year,’’ said Kinzer, who emphasized Ramirez’s desire to stay in Chicago.

And the Cubs, who aren’t looking to blow up the roster, will need middle-of-the-order help if they want to be remotely competitive by next year.

The only thing that looks certain is Ramirez sticking around through Sunday.

‘‘[Ramirez] has always expressed to me this is where he’d rather be, and his preference is to stay, and that’s really all there is to it,’’ Hendry said. ‘‘He won’t be traded by 3 o’clock on Sunday, and that’s his right. And that being said, he knows there’s no guarantee he’ll be back next year. And there’s no guarantee that he won’t be.’’

Hendry wouldn’t speculate on extending Ramirez, but both sides clearly see it as a possibility.

‘‘We don’t have to do anything now [with that],’’ Ramirez said. ‘‘First they have to decide which way they want to go, if they want to go young, if they want to go after big guys in the offseason, if they want to increase payroll or cut the payroll. There’s a lot of stuff that has to happen for me to come back.’’

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