|Seeking punch at first base, the Braves worked out a deal to acquire seven-year Cub Derrek Lee, who waived his no-trade clause to play for a contender.
The Cubs, who in addition to Lee also have traded away Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot this summer, received a trio of minor league pitchers, headlined by low Class A righthander Robinson Lopez. The Braves also kicked in relievers Ty’Relle Harris, a righthander, and Jeff Lorick, a lefty, the club’s 19th- and 20th-round draft selections in 2009.
The Cubs kicked in $1.7 million in the deal, which is roughly half of the $3.4 million owed Lee through the end of the season, his last under contract. The dollar amount speaks to Chicago’s desire to acquire Lopez and Co.
Atlanta first-base incumbent Troy Glaus hit passably in the first half but had crashed back to earth in 102 second-half at-bats, hitting .196/.291/.304 with two home runs. The 34-year-old Lee is in the midst of his worst season in a decade, but his bat had been perking up lately and he brings a steady glove to Chicago. He’s off to a .313/.356/.583 start through 96 at-bats in the second half, during which he’s smacked six of his 16 home runs.
|Robinson Lopez, rhp
Born: March 2, 1991 in Moca, Dominican Republic.
Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 190. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Braves, Nov. 19, 2008.
The primary target in the trade, the teenage Lopez already shows a quality fastball at 88-92 mph and low-80s changeup most times out. He tops out at 94 mph on occasion. His feel for a breaking ball is not nearly so refined, though a plus, late-breaking slider does make an appearance from time to time. Lopez began the year as one of a trio of exciting 19-year-old Latin American righthanders with Rome, though Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino earned quick promotions to high Class A. To help offset their losses, the Braves recently promoted 18-year-old lefty Carlos Perez from Rookie-level Danville.
|Ty’Relle Harris, rhp
Born: Dec. 12, 1986 in Compton, Calif.
Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 235. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Selected by Braves in 19th round of 2009 draft; signed June 12, 2009.
Harris earns praise for his physicality and competitiveness, but his stuff is a bit short to assure him of big league time. If he’s to make it, he’ll have to earn it. Harris pitches at 89-92 mph with an average fastball and fringy breaking stuff. His decent changeup gives him a shot at a low-leverage relief role.
|Jeff Lorick, lhp
Born: Dec. 18, 1987 in Duluth, Ga.
Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 195. Bats: L. Throws: L.
Career Transactions: Selected by Braves in 20th round of 2009 draft; signed June 11, 2009.
Lefthanded batters in the South Atlantic League must have been eager to say goodbye to Lorick, who limited same-siders to a .128/.222/.170 batting line. That’s 6-for-47 with two doubles, six walks and 18 strikeouts. Lorick owes his success to a firm low-90s fastball and a hard slider, two weapons that could keep him in the Cubs’ picture for years as a potential situational lefty or even set-up reliever.
|Derrek Lee, 1b
Age: 34. Bats: R. Remaining Commitment: Under contract for $13 million this season, as part of 5-year, $65 million deal signed with Cubs in April ’06.
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.