SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) – Third baseman Aramis Ramirez hopes to stay with the Cubs.

Ramirez said Thursday that several teams have contacted his agent to discuss his availability since he filed for free agency this week.

“The Cubs are my first choice but I’m a free agent because I had to give myself the opportunity,” Ramirez said during an interview with The Associated Press.

Ramirez had 28 homers and 121 RBIs. He declined to exercise player options worth $11.5 million next year and $11 million in 2008. If he had exercised those options, the Cubs would have gained an $11 million team option for 2009.

“I don’t feel that I’m taking a risk by becoming a free agent,” he said. “I don’t know for how much I’m going to sign (for) because I don’t like to discuss figures, but it would have to be more than the $11 million.”

He would be willing to changes leagues.

“In either league, they play tough baseball, so it doesn’t matter to me,” he said.

AP-ES-11-02-06 1815EST

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