There's no question about it at this point – the Pirates are buyers. The Pirates and Orioles announced tonight that the Pirates acquired Derrek Lee from Baltimore for minor league first baseman Aaron Baker.
The 35-year-old Lee (pictured) has a .248/.306/.409 line in 360 plate appearances this year and earns $7.25MM. His play has improved in July, however; he has a .261/.306/.533 line with six homers this month. Pirates first basemen (led by Lyle Overbay) have hit .228/.303/.343 with just eight homers this year, so their interest in Lee's power potential is understandable. The Pirates will pay Lee's remaining $2.3MM, with the Orioles covering bonus clauses.
“He is an experienced, productive right-handed hitter and solid defender who should add to our team on thefield and in the clubhouse,” Pirates GM Neal Huntington said in a statement.
Though his contract expires after the season, Lee doesn't project as a ranked free agent, so he probably won't be tied to draft pick compensation.
Baker, 23, has a .285/.353/.474 line with 15 homers in Class A Bradenton this year. The 2009 draft pick did not crack Baseball America's preseason list of the Pirates' top 30 prospects.
Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun broke the news and MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, Rob Biertempfel and Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review also contributed to the story. Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.