There are all sorts of reasons to expect Carlos Lee to get traded sometime between now and the July deadline.
1. He’s an impending free agent making $8.5MM.
2. Doug Melvin is a savvy GM, and knows when to sell high (see Dan Kolb).
3. The Brewers have an able replacement left fielder in Corey Hart, who is projected by PECOTA to hit .272/.337/.475 in 2006. Lee is projected by the same system to hit .282/.347/.506. Accepting that difference in production would allow Melvin to net a top prospect or two.
The Brewers will have plenty of trade partners for Lee. Phil Rogers mentions both the White Sox and Cubs by name. Here’s my own analysis of the possibilities.
Red Sox – If the Sox end up trading Manny for young players, Lee could fill the power void with 35 HR.
Blue Jays – Ricciardi dealt amicably with Melvin for Lyle Overbay, and the Jays don’t have much going on in LF. If they’re hovering near contention in July it makes a ton of sense.
White Sox – I don’t see it. They didn’t part on the best of terms, and the Sox have good outfield depth. I’m for any move that relegates Podsednik to the bench, but I don’t think reacquiring Lee would be the first choice.
Angels – It would involve shuffling outfielders around, but Lee would be a more reasonable addition than Manny. Maybe the Halos would consider dealing Dallas McPherson for him.
Braves – The Braves have definitely dealt for big-name sluggers in the past as opposed to acquiring them via free agency. J.D. Drew, Gary Sheffield, and Fred McGriff come to mind. They have the stacked minor league system to get it done.
Cubs – Both clubs might be contending in the Central division, so it makes a trade less likely. Back in January, though, Sun-Times writer Greg Couch proposed the Cubs try to entice the Brewers with both Felix Pie and Rich Hill.
Cardinals – They have the need, but the same division thing would have to prevent a trade.
My ranking of the most likely suitors: Blue Jays, Braves, Angels, Cubs. I’d like to see your thoughts in the comments.