Tuesday, April 11, 2006

lee extended

derrek lee is the proud new beneficiary of a five-year, $65mm deal with the chicago cubs, which retroactivates to run from 2006 to 2010 with a full no-trade clause. this writer has seen no early word on the kind of player option that came with aramis ramirez's deal.

During spring training, Lee said he wouldn't necessarily be seeking the biggest contract.

"If it's a deal I feel is fair for me, I would sign it. It's still a business. I always look at it as if there is a deal that makes me happy now, why not sign it? I don't think $2-3 million a year more is going to change my life," he said.

if lee didn't get the biggest contract -- which was surely in new york -- he did get a robust one. lee was able to capitalize on a titanic contract year performance in 2005 to reach up to the $13mm per annum plateau populated by only a very few elite major leaguers.

lee's career output is extremely similar to another chicago first baseman who was signed just this last offseason to five years and $60mm. having the market set so precisely for them, both parties seem to have worked out a reasonable deal that rewards lee significantly over konerko for his promising 2005. besides the monetary advantage, lee's no-trade clause is far more powerful than konerko's (which is limited to a six-team exclusion).

this page now turns its eyes to aramis ramirez, whose player option following this season gives him powerful clout to renegotiate his contract into a price range befitting his incredible bat. this page has long suspected that the cubs, due to their self-imposed profit constraints, were likely to make a choice between lee or aramis. could it now be that this choice has been made, and the cubs' only real hope of retaining ramirez lays in the waiving of his option? certainly, that is possible -- especially considering that the team is still facing the free agency of greg maddux and kerry wood, who may already have been judged and found wanting.

however, if inexpensive superhyped prospect felix pie is brought forward in 2007 to displace free agent rental juan pierre, thereby freeing his $5mm salary as well as the $22mm allocated now to maddux and wood, it is just possible that jim hendry and andy macfail could divert some few millions of those annual funds to ramirez as a means of keeping him around -- and do so without significantly damaging the quality of the starting staff. as such, pie's performace in iowa this season takes on added importance with lee's extension.

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