The last time Derrek Lee was up for a new contract, he signed a five-year extension at the outset of the 2006 season and suffered a season-changing wrist injury a couple of weeks later.Lee is a fan favorite in Chicago and has been one of the top players for the Cubs since his arrival in 2004, but the Cubs are making a smart choice in holding off negotiations with their first baseman. Even though Lee put together a phenomenal 2009 season at the dish, their are a number of factors that suggest that the Cubs should take negotiations slow with Lee.
Now Lee is in no hurry to get a deal done before he enters his second "walk" year as a member of the Cubs, confident he'll put up the kind of numbers that will make him a coveted free agent in November.
Lee wants to end his career as a Cub, and the Cubs want him back.
But there will be no negotiations this spring and probably not any during the season. Unlike last time, there's no guarantee Lee will be back.
"I'd like to (retire as a Cub), but if it doesn't happen, I understand that also," Lee said. "It's really not a big issue."
-Lee will be 35 in September and the Cubs need to be completely assured that his skills are not declining before they re-commit to him
-After breaking his wrist in 2006, Lee's power numbers took a hit in both 2007 and 2008 as he failed to hit more than 22 home runs. Lee bounced back nicely in 2009 by hitting 35 home runs, but the Cubs need to make sure that his power is back for sure before giving him another lucrative extension.
-There are a number of quality free agent first base options out there this winter so if the Cubs lose Lee, then there are a number of players who they can go after to fill the void. Even though Lee is a fan favorite in Chicago, he is replaceable should his price tag become too high for the Cubs liking.