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Thoughts on the Carlos Lee-to-Miami deal

Jul 4, 2012, 6:16 PM EDT

Carlos Lee Getty Images

– It was obvious the Marlins had to upgrade. Gaby Sanchez looked like a borderline All-Star at this time last year, but he hit just .225/.320/.359 after the break, and even that would be a big improvement on his 2012 line of .194/.240/.283. He posted OPSs of .576 in April, .484 in May and .496 in June. It’s not Marlins Park, either: he’s hit .163/.212/.245 on the road this year. I wouldn’t write him off entirely for 2013 and beyond, but his 2012 looks like a lost cause.

– So, in steps Carlos Lee. I like the fit. Lee isn’t a big home run guy anyway, so Marlins Park won’t scare him off. His .286/.336/.412 line this year is modest enough, but he has more extra-base hits (21) than strikeouts (17). He’s a league-average first baseman, and that’s a big upgrade for Miami right now.

– The price was surprising, but that’s because the Marlins, unlike the Dodgers, wanted the Astros to pick up all Lee’s remaining salary. They’ll pay only about $200,000 of the approx. $9 million he’s still owed. It’s not my money, so I think the Astros did better here than they would have getting right-hander Garrett Gould from the Dodgers.

– In Matt Dominguez, the Astros get a potential third baseman of the future. I’ve never been very high on the former first-round pick, but he truly is an excellent defender, and if he can just shake the injury bug, he might prove adequate enough offensively to make it as a regular. He’s still just 22 years old. I’m not a Chris Johnson fan, and I don’t think he’ll prove to be any sort of long-term answer for Houston. Besides, he’s a poor defensive third baseman, so even if he does prove me wrong offensively, he’ll make more sense at first or DH for Houston anyway.

– Left-hander Rob Rasmussen was the other prospect in the deal. The 2010 second-round pick is 4-7 with a 3.90 ERA and a 75/36 K/BB ratio in 87 2/3 innings as a repeater at high-A Jupiter this season. Baseball America rated him as the Marlins’ No. 7 prospect headed into the season (Dominguez was No. 4), but realistically, he’s probably a reliever at best.

– Besides getting a couple of youngsters, the other benefit here for Houston is they’ll get to see whether Brett Wallace should be included in their future plans. If they had the chance, they’d certainly take back the trade that brought him from Toronto for center fielder Anthony Gose two years ago. Wallace did excellent work filling in for an injured Lee earlier this season, going 12-for-36 with two homers in 11 games. Still, that only pushed his career OPS up to .701 through 516 major league at-bats. He still has the nice line-drive stroke that made him a prospect, but he possesses limited power and little defensive value. The Astros should give him every chance to succeed in the second half and then look to move on this winter if he doesn’t progress.

– Given that the Marlins didn’t take on any salary here, they should still have the ability to go get another piece this month, whether it’s a center fielder or a late-inning reliever. The problem is that the cupboard is pretty bare: the Marlins have two excellent prospects in outfielder Christian Yelich and right-hander Jose Fernandez, but there probably aren’t more than two or three minor league systems with less depth to them.

  1. jkaflagg - Jul 4, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    I think the most encouraging thing here was that the Astros were willing to eat the $9 million left on Lee’s contract in order to roll the dice on a couple of middling prospects…..Will be interesting to see if they are willing to do so again when trade talks involving Myers and Wandy heat up…..

    • baseballisboring - Jul 5, 2012 at 3:01 AM

      I’d certainly hope so. It’s a long road back for them, especially since they’re moving to the AL with the Rangers and Angels in their division. Not a time to be cheap.

  2. rexgrossman8 - Jul 4, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    So much for the theory about him wanting to stay in TX for his ranch…how are the Dodgers not diligent enough to not ask for Houston to pay the entire salary.

    Good for Florida on working to improve themselves

    • stex52 - Jul 4, 2012 at 11:06 PM

      Like Kingdave says below, Carlos couldn’t stop this deal. I pretty much agree with Matthew’s analysis. I don’t think Chris Johnson has the power for DH and he is a terrible defender. And it’s fish or cut bait time with Wallace. One more move by Ed Wade that worked out poorly. I’m glad that Luhnow is in charge now.

      From what I read, sounds like Rasmussen may be the value in this trade. We will see what happens. But anything is more than I thought they would get for Carlos this year.

    • lanflfan - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:06 PM

      Dodger brass has money to spend on their baseball team (a novel concept in LA the last few years), and would rather shell out dough than give up better prospects. Pretty much 180 degress from McAsshat’s model of how to screw a baseball franchise and piss off a fanbase in record time. And as you may have noticed, Dodger fans have returned once we exorcised the demon.

      That said, I’m glad Carlos Lee is not coming to LA. I’ve been ready to move on from James Loney for over a year, but Lee is not enough of an improvement. Carlos, thanks for invoking your no-trade and good luck in Miami.

  3. thekingdave - Jul 4, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    No, it’s a not theory, it’s accepted fact. The Marlins were one of the teams he could not reject a trade to. If they were, he’d unfortunately still be in Houston.

  4. thegonz13 - Jul 4, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    Jeffrey Loria conning another team to pay the salary of a player he just acquired. Sounds like par for the course for him… as long as he doesn’t have to take a dime out of his own pocket, this slime ball is happy!

    • Old Gator - Jul 4, 2012 at 10:47 PM

      Whatever else you want to say about Scrooge McLoria, he usually seems to get his way. Don’t blame him for the desperation or stupidity of the teams with whom he makes his deals. The Astros are anxious to begin reshaping their roster and have a look at some of their young players. Lee, who wasn’t going to be their future, was just in the way. I think it was a move that serves both teams well.

  5. jaxbill - Jul 4, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    Forget injuries, Matt Dominguez can’t hit. His glove was ready long ago. He got to AA three years ago and hasn’t hit over .250 since. And he doesn’t have the power stats for a corner infielder either.

  6. lovistemiami - Jul 5, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Gaby is in a year-to-date long slump, it’s probably wise to let him go down to AAA and work out the kinks and come back next year. Dominguez can’t hit, but more importantly Hanley is blocking 3rd for the for the foreseeable future. So great (and cheap) move for the Marlins. Welcome to the 305 El Caballo!

    And as for Loria’s cheapness… they were traditionally a .500 ballclub while in the basement in league spending. Now they’re in the upper third and still .500(ish) – Thanks Heath!

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