The Dodgers, trying to add a big bat, have agreed to a deal with the Astros to acquire first baseman Carlos Lee. Now it is up to Lee whether it will happen.
Lee told reporters in Houston on Saturday that he is deciding whether to accept the trade. The Dodgers are one of 14 teams that cannot acquire Lee, 36, without his permission, according to sources with knowledge of his contract.
Sources said the Dodgers would send the Astros minor league right-hander Garrett Gould in return for Lee and cash. Gould was the Dodgers’ No. 6 prospect entering the season, according to Baseball America. Gould, a Kansas native, is 1-6 with 5.13 ERA in 72 innings this year for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the Class A California League.
The Dodgers, who are using Juan Rivera and James Loney at first base, rank next-to-last in the National League in OPS at the position. They currently are playing without their 2-3-4 hitters — second baseman Mark Ellis, center fielder Matt Kemp and right fielder Andre Ethier — and fell out of first place Thursday for the first time since April 11.
Lee is owed just under $9 million for the rest of the season, after which he will become a free agent. Players normally require a financial inducement to waive no-trade protection, which could be the case with Lee. But Lee could also raise his value on the open market this offseason by playing in a pennant race. The Astros could also place pressure on Lee to accept by threatening to send him to one of the 15 teams to which he cannot block a trade.
The Dodgers, under new ownership, prefer to take on expensive contracts in trades rather than part with top prospects, sources say. The Astros, in exchange for financial relief, would accept lesser players in such a deal. But if the Astros pay a substantial portion of Lee’s salary, they could effectively buy a prospect of Gould’s caliber.
Lee is batting .290/.342/.412 this season, with five home runs and 29 RBI in 257 plate appearances.