I'm asking the question because there seems to be no shortage of differing opinions among those who follow the Astros online.
My assumption was that he had a full no-trade clause for the life of his contract, but now I think that's wrong. For one thing, Cot's indicates that the full no-trade clause is only from 2007-2010. (the complete no-trade idea is repeated here along with the claim that Lee has refused to waive his no-trade clause 3 times. However, there's no source referenced and the author isn't that reliable.)
I thought I read some posts in spring training that implied or claimed that Lee's full no-trade expires after this season, and he doesn't have any trade protection next season, but after the 2011 season he has 10-5 rights, so he can veto any trade. (See the Astros Fan Blog at the Chronicle for that opinion.) So the thought is that there would be a window where it might be possible to offload him. However, aside from the posts that mention that idea, I can't find anything to back it up.
I am now of the opinion that Lee will retain some kind of limited no-trade clause for next season and beyond. First, I did find this report by ESPN from 2006 when Lee signed with the Astros that states it. It doesn't describe the nature of the no-trade clause, but says that it exists. Second, it seems likely that if a player was concerned enough to negotiate a no-trade clause for the first four years, he wouldn't completely abandon that demand, especially in the later years of the contract.
I also found this link, from a site I haven't used very much, that says that before next season (2011), the Astros and Lee must agree to 12 teams that he cannot be traded to without his consent and those will serve as the limited no-trade clause for the final 2 seasons of the contract. What isn't clear is whether or not Lee will also be able to exercise his 10-5 rights in the final season of the contract. I don't know if that is a "right" a player can negotiate away in return for other terms, such as the limited no-trade clause in the 2011. I'd guess that he can contract to waive that right, but I don't have any way to confirm that.
Even the half hour I've wasted on this seems pointless. I have a hard time seeing how the Astros are going to be able to move Lee for much in the next couple of seasons. If he can really block a trade to 12 teams, then it seems it would be pretty easy for him to strategically choose the ones most likely to be willing to accept a player like him. In reality, as long as he is close to his offensive numbers of the past couple seasons, his contract isn't obscene, but merely distasteful. For me, his worst offenses are the perceived attitude of not really caring that much, the apparent lack of effort and the fact that he represents the worst of McLane's excesses. What can you say about a ballplayer who puts proximity to his ranch above playing for a winning team? It's Drayton's money and if he needs to suffer for wasting it on a half-assed ballplayer like Lee, so be it. I just wish I didn't have to watch him.
Links I used for this post: