The Houston Astros are dangling pretty much any veteran of value at the MLB Winter Meetings, and Carlos Lee is definitely the highest priced of any of those. Yet it’s also true that the Astros are going to have to eat much of that money — perhaps nearly all of it — to acquire a player of value. After all, Lee makes a ton of money, isn’t exactly a defensive wonder and has steadily declined over the last few seasons. He will be 36 in June.
That said, the Royals definitely hold as many intriguing prospects as any team in baseball, and while no team ever wants to part with cheap, promising talent, the Royals can definitely deal from a position of strength in a possible Carlos Lee swap. The Astros need to desperately stock a system that hasn’t been good for over a decade, and Lee is going to be dead weight on a losing team.
Could Lee hold value for the Royals? I would say absolutely. While the Royals already have Billy Butler for the DH/1B slot and hitters in both corner OF spots as well in Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur, it’s also clear that there are some holes to fill in the line-up. Lorenzo Cain is not an automatic in centerfield and Lee’s bat could play well in the line-up as a power bat off of the bench and rotating through various spots providing a rest for an every day player.
In other words, if the Astros are handing him out on the cheap, then the Royals are one of the teams who could afford an extra prospect it might take to get him to add a strong veteran bat to the roster. After all, Lee still hit .275 with 18 home runs and 94 RBI just last year. He’s not likely to approach those numbers again, particularly the RBI total, but another 20 home runs is very possible. Even as a platoon option against left-handed hitters, who he mashes, Lee will still provide a lot of value somewhere. If the price is cheap enough, it’s worth a move.