The Pirates have evidently traded first base prospect Aaron Baker for Orioles first baseman Derrek Lee and cash.
From the Pirates’ perspective, this is a fine trade, if not an earth-shattering one. Given what has been required to trade for bigger-ticket items like Hunter Pence, the Pirates were probably wise not to make a huge deal – unlike teams like the Phillies, they need to keep their best prospects. Lee is in the decline phase of his career, but he’s still a big upgrade on Lyle Overbay, and he did hit 35 homers as recently as 2009. If he gets some of that old spark, the stretch run should be a lot of fun, and even if he doesn’t, it’s hard to imagine the Pirates’ play at first base being worse.
Aaron Baker played first base for the Class A+ Bradenton Marauders. He was a little old for the level. He has good power, but he doesn’t hit for outstanding averages, and strikeouts should hold him back as he moves up. Given that he has very little defensive value, it’s hard to imagine him becoming a major-league starter, although it isn’t out of the realm of possibility. The Pirates haven’t given up here.
The Pirates will have to make a roster move to make space for Lee, and it’s possible they will release Overbay, who wouldn’t be much more useful as a bench player than he would be as a starter.