Astros agree to trade Carlos Lee to Marlins for prospects

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UPDATE: Olney says the deal is done and Houston is getting minor leaguers Matt Dominguez, a third baseman and one-time top prospect whose stock has dropped, and Rob Rasmussen, a 2010 second-round pick with a chance to be a mid-rotation starter. All in all not a bad haul considering the Astros were just happy to shed Lee, although they’re likely paying a big chunk of his remaining money.

UPDATE #2: Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports that Lee’s locker in the Astros’ clubhouse is now empty, so it looks like the trade is all but official.

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Carlos Lee turned down a trade to the Dodgers last week, but the Astros have continued to shop the veteran first baseman/left fielder and Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that they’re “deep into talks” with the Marlins.

According to Olney “he has indicated a willingness to play for Miami” and a deal could be very close.

Miami first basemen have combined to hit just .206 with five homers and a .565 OPS that ranks dead last among MLB teams. In fact, no other team is below .600. They’ve turned back to Gaby Sanchez as the primary first baseman after demoting him to Triple-A earlier this season, but he’s hit just .190 with one homer in 18 games since returning to the big leagues.

Lee’s production has hardly been spectacular for a first baseman, including just five homers and a .412 slugging percentage in 65 games, but as with the Dodgers and James Loney the Marlins and Sanchez are certainly one of the few situations in which he’d represent a potential upgrade.

Lee is being paid $18.5 million in the final season of six-year, $100 million contract, so the Astros won’t be getting much in return and may have to eat a big portion of that salary.

Oakland Athletics reverse course: will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.