The Atlanta Braves made a move to upgrade their offense on Wednesday, acquiring Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee for three prospects. Lee passed through waivers unclaimed and as such, the Cubs were able to complete a deal with any team, rather than having to negotiate with a claiming team. Lee was rumored to be of interest to the Angels (among others) and ultimately waived his no-trade clause to head to Atlanta.
Lee will become the starter at first base for the Braves, replacing incumbent Troy Glaus. In a side-by-side comparison, Glaus has the edge in power numbers (16 homers and 70 RBI compared to Lee’s 16 and 56), but Lee has the edge in batting average (.251 to .239). Defensively Lee has a large advantage, as he is the owner of three Gold Glove awards while Glaus is playing the position (full-time) for the first time in 2010.
From the Braves perspective, this deal was more about Chipper Jones’ season ending injury than Troy Glaus’ struggles. The injury to Jones creates a hole at third base, the position Glaus occupied for most of his career. Glaus will head to the disabled list with a sore left knee, and he will likely complete a rehab assignment where he will ease back into playing the hot corner.
From the Cubs perspective, this is an excellent deal. They kicked in $1.7M (of the $3.4M owed to Lee for the rest of this season), and in doing so they ensured that they received something of value in return rather than a straight salary dump. They receive right-handed pitchers Robinson Lopez and Tyrelle Harris as well as left-handed pitcher Jeffrey Lorick. Lopez is the best of the three, as he was ranked 16th in the Braves system.
This is the kind of deal that Atlanta wishes it didn’t have to make, but with circumstances being what they are, a move was necessary if the team wanted to keep its playoff hopes alive. For the Cubs, a team with good financial flexibility, kicking in money in this trade meant that they got good quality back – general manager Jim Hendry should be commended for this move.