Reader Blog: Playing Nostradamus: Derrek Lee
I do not believe that the Cubs should give up on 2010 but I do think they need a contingency plan in case it looks like they are falling well behind in both the division and wildcard races. Looking forward to 2011 and beyond needs to be a priority for this team.
The first player they need to look at is Derrek Lee. Now at the moment, Lee is in the 5th year of a $65 million deal. He's done a pretty good job of earning that $13 million per year and is currently having a very nice season for the Cubs.
I like Lee and I suspect the Cubs' brass does also. So here is my take on what needs to be done:
1) Approach him about waiving his No Trade Clause
2) Insist a potential trading partner give up at least 2 Grade B or better prospects who are currently residing at the Double A level or higher.
3) If no trading partner exists, let Lee finish the season with the Cubs and offer him arbitration after the season.
4) When he struggles to find a taker at the price tage he has come to expect, offer him $8 Million(per year) for 2 years.
Derrek Lee is going to be 35 in September and even though he is a good hitter. Good hitters who can play first base adequately are a dime a dozen in the current major league environment. Adam LaRoche got a 1 year, 6 Mill contract this past offseason. I don't believe that as good a player as Lee is, he is that much better than LaRoche, especially when one considers that Lee is 5 years older. He is simply not going to find the free agent market amenible to what he may expect.
OTOH, if Lee leaves, he leaves, the Cubs need to have a backup plan and while one doesn't appear to exist on the team. There are always players like, well, like LaRoche who are available every year for around the same price we would offer Lee. such a player might not perform quite as well as Lee has but would probably cost half as much and could be let go at the end of the season. Lee would net the Cubs 2 draft picks if he is a Type A Free Agent and that would be almost the same as trading him.
All salary data is courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts