The Astros have struggled once again and, come July, they are looking to be sellers in the trade market. I am sure one of the players they would like to move is left fielder/ first baseman Carlos Lee. He is the highest-paid player on the roster and at 34 he is not part of the Astros' long-term plan.
The problem is there are a number of roadblocks in the way for the Astros to move him. He has a no-trade clause, which the team would have to convince him to waive for any trade to work. He also is owed a huge sum of money over the remaining two years of his six-year, $100 million contract. The last problem is that he is not playing very well in the early part of the season, hitting only .207 with two home runs and 13 RBI.
With all that said, I do believe there is a market out there for Carlos Lee and I think these are five teams that could try to swing a trade for Lee in July.
One of the biggest surprises of the year has to be the success the Kansas City Royals have had to this point. They have been able to win their games with some timely hitting, winning a number of their games with walk-offs. However, they will need to add some power to their lineup if they hope to continue having success for the rest of the season, and Carlos Lee could be that answer.
Kila Ka'aihue is hitting only .186 with one home run and six RBI and has looked over-matched at the major-league level. He could really benefit from some more time in the minor leagues and Carlos Lee could step in as the first baseman and provide a little more power in the middle of that lineup. Also, with Lee going to the American League, he could fill in at the DH spot and his value would actually increase because he would not be required to play in the field.
The Rays have turned their season around after an ugly start and are sitting in second place in the AL East. They have been able to get back into the hunt without very much production from the first base position. Dan Johnson is hitting only .196, and while Casey Kotchman is hitting .296, the two have combined for one home run and five RBI.
Adding Carlos Lee would be out of the ordinary for the Rays, which hate adding payroll, but this is a major hole for the Rays. This could be a move that puts them over the hump and really makes them contenders in the East.
The Oakland A's have some good, young pitching, but have an offense that wouldn't scare most people. They have somehow ended up close to a .500 record at this point. Carlos Lee could be a big bat in the middle of that lineup and provide some protection to Hideki Matsui.
This move, like the Rays, would be out of character for the A's, but could make a big difference for the team. Daric Barton is currently the starting first baseman and currently only hitting .200 with four RBI. Even though Lee is slumping, he would command a little bit more respect from pitchers than Barton and add a different dynamic to that lineup.
The Angels have also struggled at first base and have started to move players around to fill the hole. The Angels decided to go ahead with rookie Mark Trumbo at the start of the season, but he has struggled a bit, hitting only .229 so far. The Angels have decided to have Trumbo come off the bench and slid Howie Kendrick over from second base to first base.
If the Angels did decide to pursue Lee, this would allow them to slide Kendrick back to second with Lee now playing first. This trade, however, would only make sense if Lee starts playing better and shows some of the power that he had a few years ago.
The Colorado Rockies have been on fire to start the season and have raced out to the best record in the majors. They have good, young pitching and have some of the best hitters in the game in Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, which has helped get them to this point. Another reason has been the bounce back year of 37-year-old Todd Helton, who currently has a .317 average, three home runs and 10 RBI.
However, it is hard to expect Helton to keep up this pace all season at his age, and platooning first base would help Helton get through the whole season. Adding Carlos Lee to the roster could provide a solid combo at first base and really make the Rockies a team to beat.