First baseman avoids salary arbitration

Updated: January 19, 2004, 4:56 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- First baseman Derrek Lee and the Chicago Cubs agreed to a $6.9 million, one-year deal Monday and avoided salary arbitration.

 Derek Lee

Lee, who helped the Florida Marlins win the World Series after they beat Chicago in the NL Championship Series, was traded to the Cubs in November for first baseman Hee Seop Choi and minor league pitcher Michael Nannini.

"We have a pretty good foundation to do something multiyear before spring training. We reached a fair agreement on a one-year deal," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Monday. "It gives us something to work off and work with."

Last week the Cubs and pitcher Kerry Wood agreed to a $9.75 million, one-year deal, giving the sides more time to work out a multiyear contract -- another deal that also could be done before spring training begins next month in Mesa, Ariz.

The Cubs have also offered Greg Maddux a two-year deal believed to be worth at least $13 million. Hendry said Monday he hadn't talked with agent Scott Boras in a few days but expected to this week.

Lee batted .271 with 31 homers, 92 RBI and 21 steals last season, and had a slugging percentage of .508. He has 20 homers in each of his last four seasons and 40 steals over the last two years.

His power numbers are expected to improve at cozy Wrigley Field and he's also a stellar fielder at first base, having won his first Gold Glove last season.

Lee made $4.25 million last season.

"Chicago, you can't ask for better place to play baseball," Lee said right after the trade. "It's a real good situation."

Lee's father, Leon, is also a longtime scout for the Cubs.

Lee is a career .264 batter in 866 major league games with 130 homers and 421 RBI. He was selected originally by the Padres in the 1993 draft and reached the majors in 1997 with San Diego. He was later traded to the Marlins as part of a four-player trade involving pitcher Kevin Brown.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press