Derrek Lee is entering the final season of a five-year, $65 million contract and has made it clear that he’d like to remain with the Cubs, but Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports that “there will be no negotiations this spring and probably not any during the season.”
Here’s what Lee had to say about the situation:
Am I worried about it? No. My only concern is winning baseball games. Contracts, they’ll take care of themselves. My numbers are going to dictate what kind of contract I get next year. So I figure if I just worry about playing baseball and helping my team win, all that other stuff takes care of itself.
Immediately after signing his current five-year contract Lee missed two-thirds of the 2006 season with an injury, but he’s played 446 of a possible 486 games since then while hitting .304/.384/.515 with 77 homers, 120 doubles, and 283 RBIs to go along with good defense at first base.
In fact, aside from that 2006 season Lee’s all-around value has consistently made him a top-10 first baseman for the past decade, including an MVP-caliber 2005 campaign that saw him lead the league in batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS. In other words he’s been really good.
However, he’ll also turn 35 years old this season and that fact alone makes it very risky for the Cubs to hand him a multi-year contract, particularly with an entire season left on his current deal.