Update: I have been given reason to believe the Braves are indeed interested in Derrek Lee and that such a deal could in fact happen.
Another day, another rumored trade. Earlier this week word circulated that the Braves wanted Aramis Ramirez, who’s a third baseman for the Cubs. That was shot down because Ramirez is due to make $14.6 million next season, essentially the same as Chipper Jones, who plans to be back at third base in 2011. (Read Mark Bowman’s nuanced post on MLB.com for the reasons why this rumor never had a prayer of becoming reality.)
But now we move across the Cubbies’ infield. Derrek Lee is the first baseman. He used to be really good. He’s not as good now, but he’s still OK. He also has a bad back.He’s a free agent at season’s end, which means he’d be a rental. (And yet another bridge to Freddie Freeman.)
According to Chicago blogger David Kaplan: “The deal that would send Lee to the Braves has not yet been finalized but MLB sources characterize the trade as nearly done.”
Lee has a no-trade clause and spurned a move to the Angels last month. From Kaplan: “Sources close to Lee tell us that he will approve a deal to Atlanta because the Braves are leading their division.”
Another factor: As Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago notes, Lee “is out until at least Thursday [after receiving] an epidural shot in his back on Monday to relieve the pain.”
One thing more: Lee hit four homers over the weekend against the Cardinals. That gives him 16 for the season, with 56 RBI’s. Troy Glaus, whom Lee would presumably supplant, has 16 homers and 70 RBI’s and owns a higher on-base percentage.
If the Braves are to make a deal before September — and a player has to be on the roster by Sept. 1 to be eligible for the postseason — Lee makes as much sense as anybody. He has playoff experience. (He was the first baseman on the Marlins’ World Series-winning team of 2003.) He wouldn’t tie up salary beyond November. But I’m a bit uneasy about the wisdom of plugging in one creaky first baseman for another.
Then again, I’m easily rendered uneasy. So maybe I’m not the best gauge.