I didn't get a chance to weigh in on this over the weekend, but the trade the Angels and Blue Jays pulled off was the first ray of hope I've had in months for a possible Carlos Lee trade. In case you missed it, Los Angeles took on all of the four years and 50+ million left on Vernon Wells' contract in exchange for giving up Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. Surprisingly, the Blue Jays only have to pay about 5 million dollars in the balance.
So, if the Angels will take on a huge, horrible contract for basically peanuts, why can't Carlos Lee get moved? As I see it, there are two big stumbling blocks:
1) His age - Lee is three years older than Wells and will be 35 in June. Wells just turned 32 and may retain his abilities for longer.
2) Recent success - Wells is coming off a season where he hit 31 homers and had an OPS of .847. Lee did not hit those marks. If you're going to sell a fan base on an acquisition, it helps if that guy can hit.
Now, most of us think Lee will rebound next season. If he does, getting hot in the months leading up to the trading deadline, it might actually make him tradeable. He still has a limited no-trade clause, so he'd have to go somewhere that he'd be somewhat happy. Plus, the team would have to have a need for a DH/1B-type and the money to absorb Lee's 2012 salary.
Who does that leave us with? Well, the Rangers are one of the few teams that could fit that mold. Lee would still be close to his ranch, so he'd have no reason to list Texas on his no-trade clause. The Rangers could rearrange their lineup to accomodate Lee either at DH or first base. They will more than likely not fill that DH hole just yet, instead waiting to see if Michael Young can fill the spot. Plus, they will not be needing to combat the Angel's acquisition of Wells, so soon on the heels of losing Cliff Lee.
Will it happen? 95 percent chance of no. The Rangers would still have to eat about 20 million of the contract, and I'm not sure they're willing to do that.
So, while the Wells trade may give us hope that the Astros can move Lee's contract, it's still highly unlikely to happen. Unless Tony Reagins needs a 30-million dollar player for his bench...