It looks like the Pirates and Orioles are, as speculated, going to make a deal for Derrek Lee tonight with the veteran first baseman going to the Pirates in return for minor league first baseman Aaron Baker. Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun’s been all over the story tonight and he’s the one that broke this first on twitter.
It’s hard to say this is a bad deal for the Pirates. Lee is clearly on the downside of his career, but he’s obviously got some pop left in his bat (since June 17th he’s hitting .294/.331/.538 with eight of his 12 homers) and he’s certainly an upgrade over Lyle Overbay at this point. He’s not as good of a pickup as someone like Jason Kubel might be (who, in all fairness, could still be added in the next 16 hours), but he definitely makes the Pirates better and if he stays hot it’s possible he’ll make them quite a bit better.
As for Baker, he’s just kind of the odd-man out at first base in the lower part of the minors. As I noted below, he started the year out on approximately even footing with Matt Curry, but Curry leapfrogged him by putting up huge numbers in West Virginia and holding his own in West Virginia. With the addition of Alex Dickerson in this year’s draft and Dickerson’s strong performance thus far in State College, Baker is probably the third best first base prospect the Pirates have below Double-A. There’s definitely some upside in Baker (minor league stats), but to this point in his career he hasn’t shown exceptional power or on base skills so there’s probably not a ton there and so I think this is an acceptable trade off for the Pirates.
Lee won’t be the player that pushes this Pirate team into the playoffs in 2011, but he’ll definitely make them better and the club managed to make the deal without giving up much from their farm system. That makes it a good trade. The question now is whether or not Neal Huntington’s done dealing before tomorrow’s 4 PM deadline.