Marlins Acquire Carlos LeeBy
Less than a week after Astros’ first basemen Carlos Lee exercised his option to block a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers, it appears that he’ll now be headed to the Marlins for two minor leaguers, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. The Astros are reportedly on the hook for the remainder of Lee’s $9 million salary this season (excluding the pro-rated major-league minimum) and will receive third basemen Matt Dominguez and left-handed pitcher Rob Rasmussen in return.
The move comes as a bit of a surprise in terms of timing but it shows that Ozzie Guillen’s club is serious about contending for a playoff spot this season. The Marlins’ biggest hole in the lineup has been at the first base spot, with Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison both struggling mightily in their time there. Combined, Marlins first basemen have put up a slash line of just .236/.292/.359 thus far in 2012.
Lee, or “El Caballo” as he’s affectionately known, should provide an upgrade at the first base spot in the short term, even if it’s just a marginal one. He’s seen his power numbers decline significantly over the past several years, going from 26 home runs in 2009 to just 5 so far this season. At the very least, he’ll be able to get on base at a better clip than what the Fish have seen from this position in 2012, and for a club that ranks near the bottom of the NL in OBP, I suppose it can’t hurt the cause.
The main incentive for not feeling like this deal is a waste of time is ultimately that the Astros are on the hook for the remainder of Lee’s salary. In addition, there were essentially no options to pull from within the organization, aside from hoping that Gaby Sanchez or Logan Morrison suddenly found their way at the plate. Neither of those options would have been in the best interest of time in terms of competing in the NL East, and I’m not so sure the club would have felt entirely comfortable with either option.
Giving up Dominguez and Rasmussen shouldn’t worry Fish fans, either. Dominguez, who has spent this season in Triple-A New Orleans, has still yet to find a way to put it together at the plate despite being a standout defensively. And even if he had found his stroke at the plate this season, it isn’t like he had a spot on the big club with Hanley Ramirez now blocking his path at third. Rasmussen, a second round selection in 2010, was just recently promoted to Double-A Jacksonville after posting a 4-7 record with a 3.90 ERA in 16 starts for Jupiter. He was ranked the Marlins’ seventh-best prospect by Baseball America coming into the season and could end up as a decent back-of-the-rotation starter, or at the very least a lefty specialist out of the bullpen.
In all, the Marlins’ acquisition of Carlos Lee is a seemingly-pointless move that should only provide a marginal upgrade offensively at the first base position. It’s a move made for practically nothing and the club didn’t have to give up premium prospects, which I guess was apparently enough incentive for GM Mike Hill to pull the trigger.