Reviewing the Carlos Lee Trade
Starting with this trade, I am going to be going back and reviewing all the trades the Astros made this season in my subsequent articles. I will address the situation in which the trade was made, along with how every player involved finished out the season.
Back on July 4, Jeff Luhnow struck a deal with the Miami Marlins to trade 1B, Carlos Lee to Miami in exchange for two minor leaguers, 3B Matt Dominguez and LHP Rob Rasmussen, This came just days after Carlos Lee blocked a trade to the first place Los Angeles Dodgers in which the Astros stood to receive minor league LHP Garret Gould. The Astros reportedly paid Lee’s entire salary through the end of the season to help bring back better talent than they would if they had not paid any salary. Lee was in the last year of a 6 year/$100 mil deal that he signed in November 2006. Let’s take a look at how each player did post trade after the jump.
Carlos Lee (Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE)
Lee moved to 1B midway through the 2011 season when Brett Wallace‘s struggles became so apparent, that he was sent down to AAA and J.D. Martinez was called up to the big leagues to replace Lee in LF. Lee’s home run totals have rapidly declined since his first season in Houston as from 2207 – 2012, his home run numbers were 32, 28, 26, 24, 18, 9. For a guy playing a premier power position in 1B, I was quite surprised that we were able to obtain such a decent package for Carlos Lee. Enter, the Miami Marlins.
The Marlins went from frugal spenders to very liberal spenders this offseason. They handed out a combined $191 million to Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. Still, they were not winning. After the deal that would send Carlos Lee to the Dodgers fell through, Jeff Luhnow struck a deal with the Marlins, a team that was not on Lee’s limited no trade clause. The Marlins believed a change of scenery would awaken the power bat inside Lee. That would not happen, as down the stretch for Miami, Lee would hit a meager .240 with 4 HR’s and 46 RBI.
From the Astros side, 3B Matt Dominguez and LHP Rob Rasmussen were sent to Houston. Initially, Dominguez stayed in Houston and played one series before he was optioned to AAA, Oklahoma City. Rob Rasmussen was sent straight to AA, Corpus Christi and joined the Hooks starting rotation.
Rasmussen is a lefty drafted in the second round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of the University of California. He has played his entire pro career as a starter and profiles as either a back end of the rotation starter or a lefty out of the bullpen. He was 4-7 with a 3.90 ERA for the Marlins High A Jupiter affiliate before being traded. He pitched down the stretch with the Hooks to the tune of a 4-4 record with a 4.90 ERA over 10 starts. His combined stats for the season are 8-11 with a 4.25 ERA stretched over 26 starts. He will likely begin the 2013 season back in Corpus as a member of the Hooks starting rotation.
Matt Dominguez has always been lauded for his defensive play. It’s the primary reason he was selected 12th overall in the 2007 MLB Draft out of high school. His bat has been a work in progress and while he has had spurts of hitting well, he did not have a big enough sample size to make others believe it had come around. That likely played a big part in Miami’s willingness to include him in a deal for a slumping power hitter (that and the fact that at the time he was blocked at 3B by Hanley Ramirez, who was traded one month later).
Once he joined the Astros organization, Dominguez’s bat came alive. In 45 games at AAA, Dominguez hit a cool .298 with 2 HR’s and 23 RBI. After his promotion to Houston, he has hit .290 with 5 HR and 15 RBI while basically playing everyday except for a few off days due to sickness/injury. That’s a combined total of 273 plate appearances in the Astros organization in which he has hit very well. His combined stats for the 2012 season at AAA are a .257 BA with 9 HR’s and 69 RBI to go along with the aforementioned batting line in the big leagues this season. Dominguez should enter the 2013 season as the Astros starting 3B and if his play of the 2012 season persists, this could turn into one of the biggest steals in Astros history.
It’s hard to call this trade anything but a win for the Astros. The Marlins did not get any better by acquiring Lee, nor did they make even a slight playoff push and their main reason for including Dominguez in the deal (much to the chagrin of their fan base that follows the minors) was that he was blocked by Hanley Ramirez at 3B. Ramirez was then traded to the Dodgers less than a month later and in a subsequent trade, the Dodgers went out and acquired Zack Lee from the Cardinals to help fill the void at 3B. The Astros, on the other hand, filled two needs with this trade as the club lacked depth at 3B and LHP which is exactly what they got. Dominguez is the jewel of this deal. If he can continue to hit and hit well, the Astros may have found their 3B of the future.