UPDATE: First baseman Derrek Lee has indeed been dealt to the Atlanta Braves. In return for the two-time All-Star, the Cubs received three pitching prospects: Robinson Lopez, Tyrelle Harris, and Jeffrey Lorick. The Braves also received cash consideratoins in the deal.
As for the prospects headed the Cubs way...
Robinson Lopez(6'2", 190 pounds) is a 19-year-old right-hander that went 3-8, with a 4.37 ERA in Single-A ball for the Braves this season. He started 16 of the 24 games that he pitched in, totaling 92 2/3 innings. He struck out 7o batters, walked 43, and put together a 1.371 WHIP on the season.
Tyrelle Harris(6'4", 234 pounds) was a 19th round selection by the Braves in the 2009 draft. The 23-year-old right-hander came out of the bullpen for all but one game in the Braves system over the last two years, so they clearly viewed him as a reliever. His minor league career totals include a 2.42 ERA, 84 strikeouts in 67 innings pitched(11.3 K/9 IP), a 1.19 WHIP, and no home runs allowed. He was last at Double-A, where he had a 1.46 ERA in 12.1 innings pitched.
Jeffrey Lorick(6'0", 195 pounds) is a 22-year-old left-hander that has pitched very well with two clubs in Single-A this season. Lorick, a 20th round selection by the Braves in 2009, combined to have a 2.24 ERA, with 42 strikeouts, 21 walks, and a 1.223 WHIP in 52.1 innings pitched for the two clubs. He started just seven of 44 games pitched in the minors, so he also figures to be a reliever.
To replace Lee on the roster, the Cubs called up first baseman Micah Hoffpauir from Iowa. He and Xavier Nady will split time at first base for the remainder of the season. Jim Hendry and the Cubs' front office are surely looking at the free agents and potential trade targets already to fix the huge hole at first base this offseason.
Earlier: The Cubs and Braves are reportedly close to a trade that would send first baseman Derrek Lee to Atlanta for prospects, according to various reports.
ESPN.Com's Jerry Crasnick has given us some updates on Twitter in regards to the possible trade:
Braves and Cubs are "way along in the process'' on a Derrek Lee trade, says a baseball source. Deal could go down today or tomorrow.Link(Jerry Crasnick's Twitter)
Lee is apparently willing to sign off on the deal. The big issue now is which players Chicago will receive in return.
I was told Cubs are likely to receive lower-level prospects. Braves aren't going to deal Beachy, Teheran or other higher-level prospects.
Braves consider Lee a strong 2nd half player, and they like the thought of Glaus as a RH bat off bench. Lee also upgrades 1B defense.
Lee would have to waive his no-trade clause to allow a deal to happen, something he was not willing to do in July when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim tried to acquire him from the Cubs. As Crasnick said, Lee appears willing to do that now for a Braves team that currently is in first place by two and a half games in the National League East.
The two-time All-Star will be a free agent(projected to be a type-B) and 35 years old at season's end, and a Cubs team headed nowhere would like to get something back for Lee now before they presumably let him walk in the offseason. Ideally, the Cubs get quality prospects in return and the Braves eat what remains(approximately $3.4 million) on the $13 million Lee is owed for 2010. While it appears the Braves would be willing to pay for Lee's remaining salary for the season, it does not sound as if the Cubs will get any of the Braves' top-tier prospects in return as Crasnick reported.
Lee is batting .251, with 16 home runs, 56 RBI, and a .751 OPS on the season. It has been a disappointing season for a guy that was one of the best hitters in baseball in 2009(.305 batting average, 35 home runs, 111 RBI, .972 OPS) but he has been much better over the last two months, including a .306 batting average, with four home runs and a 1.075 OPS so far in August. He will definitely upgrade the Braves defensively at first base, and could give an offense that just lost Chipper Jones for the season a nice boost as well.
Trading Lee would end(we would assume) his outstanding career as a Cub, and would officially put the Cubs on search for a replacement at the position. There do not appear to be any quality in-house replacements for Lee at the position, so the Cubs will likely address this through free agency or trade in the offseason.
We will update you on this story as we hear more.