Oct 15, 2009, 3:59 PM EDT
Braves acquire OF Carlos Lee from the Astros for RHP Derek Lowe and OF Brandon Jones.
Why it works for Atlanta: the Braves would love to bring Tim Hudson back, yet they already have five starters in Lowe, Javier Vazquez, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson and Kenshin Kawakami. One of the vets needs to go, and the Braves could surely use some right-handed power in return. Enter Lee, who has three years and $55.5 million left on his contract. He’s not an ideal choice, given that the Braves could have an inexpensive and productive Nate McLouth-Jordan Schafer-Jason Heyward outfield in 2011. However, he’d look awfully nice in the middle of the order next year and the Braves probably aren’t going to be able to move Lowe without taking another large contract in return.
Why it works for Houston: the Astros finished 13th in the NL in ERA and 14th in runs scored this season, so they need help any way they can get it. Lee’s poor defense in left field really cuts into his value, and there’s a good case to be made for Lowe, as a consistent 200-inning-per-year guy, as the better property even before salary gets factored in. Lowe, like Lee, is signed through 2012, but the Astros would save $3.5 million per year by making the deal. It’s money that could be used to shore up the infield defense. That’s something they need to do anyway, but it’d be a must with a sinkerballer like Lowe in the rotation. They’d also get a possible fourth outfielder in Jones, who hit .281/.360/.419 in Triple-A this season.
Why it won’t happen: Lee has a no-trade clause through the end of next year, and he owns a ranch outside of Houston. He might want to stick around even if he realizes that the Braves are in a much better position to contend next year. The Astros have already foolishly committed $3 million to Brian Moehler, a pitcher who wouldn’t have much business remaining in the rotation with Lowe around. The Braves are concerned about their defense, which is one reason they didn’t pursue Adam Dunn when he was served to them on a platter last winter. They’ll likely focus on finding short-term upgrades for the offense.
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