The Cubs are close to trading first baseman Derrek Lee to the Atlanta Braves, I have learned exclusively. The trade was first discussed on Sunday evening when the Braves called Cubs GM Jim Hendry and expressed interest [...]
As a 10-5 man (10 years in the major leagues and the last five with the same team) Lee has the right to reject a trade as he did when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim tried to acquire him in late July. However, sources close to Lee tell us that he will approve a deal to Atlanta because the Braves are leading their division thus giving him a shot at winning another World Series ring.
The deal would not involve any major Braves prospects, but Atlanta would likely pick up much of the remaining salary on Lee. The only hold-up is apparently the Braves concern over Lee's troubled back, which has led him to miss the last few games. Lee is a free agent after this season.
Lee has hit .313 with a .939 OPS since the All-Star break while Troy Glaus has hit just .196 with a .595 OPS since the break. Clearly this would be a rip and replace kind of deal, with the Braves hoping to benefit from a rejuvenated Derrek Lee.
The Braves probably wouldn't have to give up too much if anything in return. The Cubs are apparently seeking some salary relief for the rest of the year, so it may be the always lovable "player to be named later." We have tons of C-plus pitching that the Cubs would enjoy. I would think if we did give up anyone, it wouldn't be more than a Scott Diamond type player.
More on this as the situation develops.
MLBTR reports that Lee "projects" to be a Type-B free agent at the end of the year, meaning if the Braves acquire him and offer him arbitration and he were to sign with another team, we would get a first round supplemental pick. MLBTR also says that Lee is owed $3.4 million between now and the end of the season.
Some Atlanta beat writers have chimed in via Twitter with positive thoughts that this deal will get done, and Ken Rosenthal says that the deal "has legs." We may simply have to wait a day or two for a clean bill of health on Derrek Lee's bum back. Along those same lines, the Braves may not initially trade anyone to the Cubs for Lee, instead agreeing upon a player to be named later. This could be any of several players and would likely be based on how well Lee performs once in a Braves uniform. This would protect Atlanta from surrendering a good prospect in the event that Lee re-injures his back.
A possible Lee acquisition also means that we likely won't see Freddie Freeman get a call-up this year.