Yesterday’s Derrek Lee trade was a move most thought wouldn’t happen – after all, Lee had rejected a trade just a couple weeks before. But believing that the Braves were a better situation than the Angels, for a variety of reasons, Lee approved the trade, which netted the Cubs three pitching prospects.

To be certain, none of the prospects is top tier – nor should we have expected them to be. Lee is a free agent after this year, is mired in a terrible season, and is going to be a Brave for just a month and a half. Still, the Cubs ate a bit of Lee’s remaining salary, and the return is actually more than I thought they’d get.

The centerpiece of the deal from the Cubs’ perspective is almost certainly 19-year-old right-hander Robinson Lopez. The youngster, a free agent signee out of the Dominican Republic, is already throwing at full-season A ball. After a dominating campaign in rookie ball last year, Lopez has been more mediocre at the higher level – sporting a 4.37 ERA and striking out 70 in just over 92 innings. His 1.37 WHIP is just ok. He’s split the season as a starter and a reliever, and actually excelled as a reliever (2.61 ERA and 27 Ks in 20.2 innings). But his upside is as a front-half starter considering his low-90s fastball and above average curve at such a young age.

Righty Tyrelle Harris is the oldest of the players in the deal (23), and is also the most advanced (AA). Since being promoted to AA mid-season, he’s absolutely dominated: 1.46 ERA and 11 Ks in 12.1 innings. This is his first full season in professional ball, as he was drafted as a senior out of Tennessee in 2009 in the 19th round. Overall, his minor league numbers since being drafted are excellent, but his low-90s fastball and average stuff suggest his upside is as a middle reliever. Also: his questionable past has come up here and there on the Internets – he was apparently accused of slapping a girl when he was in college (he says she slapped him). Obviously we’re not here to judge without knowing the whole story, but it could be a bit of a red flag.

Jeffrey Lorick was the Braves’ 20th round pick out of Virginia last year, and he’s absolutely torn up A ball this year – a 2.24 ERA in over 52 innings between two levels. But he’s 22, and already very advanced as a pitcher, so those numbers are deceptive. Lorick is a lefty reliever, who’s upside is somewhere between lefty specialist and run-of-the-mill middle reliever.

I can’t help but think the return here mirrors what the Cubs got for Mark DeRosa last year – a couple of older, decent possible bullpenners (Jeff Stevens and John Gaub), and a young, very raw, but very high upside starter (Chris Archer). Given that Archer has pitched himself into the discussion of the best pitchers in the Cubs’ system, I think we’d all be thrilled if this trade works out as well as that one did.

  • Hawkboy64

    Hey,ace does hendry really hve Any direction fr this team
    Not tht lee was the answer going frwd but there’s no replacement
    In the system the rotation is very questionable the bullpen is a mess unto itself on another yr 3rd base won’t b in good shape if they let Ramirez go. Any thoughts would b appreciated

  • wax_eagle

    Honestly moving DLee was not a “franchise direction” move. He is an expiring contract. If the cubs want to resign him after the season they can do that provided Atlanta doesn’t do it before the exclusive negotiation period is up (cant see them doing it as they have a top flight 1b prospect in their system).

    The Cubs can either go out and sign a younger productive 1B (Dunn), or use an in house option like Hoff/Colvin for a year before signing one of the mega candidates that may be available for 2012. They could maybe even flip Koskue for a replacement level 1b.

    As far as 3b is concerned honestly the Cubs have a 3b for next year, Rami is going to take his option. They can even keep him another year after that if Vitters still isn’t ready or another option hasn’t presented itself. Its expensive but he can be a top level player when he is right.

    • Ace

      Agreed. Just can’t see them dumping Ramirez.

  • Alex Belinsky

    Tyrelle Harris was my freshman college roomate at University of the Pacific. He was dripping with talent when i knew him and I think he will make the Bigs one day

    • Ace

      Thanks for the info – definitely hope you’re right.