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Lee Locked Up Long Term

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Apr 11, 2006 1:09AM

2006_04_sports_derrek_lee.jpgWhile the Cubs prized arms have been little more than ongoing sources of concern, their prized slugger has been manificent since joining the team prior to the 2004 season. On Monday, the Cubs signed Derrek Lee to a $65 million, 5 year extension. The deal is expected to be annouced officially during a scheduled Tuesday press conference.

Lee won the NL batting title with a .335 average last year, while leading the league in hits (199) and doubles (50). he also hit 46 home runs while driving in 107. And he won a Gold Glove for his defensive skill at first base. While he finished behind the Cardinals' Albert Pujols in the NL MVP voting, clearly he's the Cubs most valuable hitter and has quickly made Cubs fans forget that Sammy guy who used to hit home runs while harassing his teammated with loud Latin music.

Lee had initially set last saturday as a deadline for getting a deal done, but allowed talks to continue as the two sides got close. "If it's a deal I feel is fair for me, I would sign it. It's still a business. I always look at it as if there is a deal that makes me happy now, why not sign it? I don't think $2-3 million a year more is going to change my life," Lee said. Chicagoist just hopes his kids understand why they have to get flown around in a Gulfstream IV and not a Gulfstream V like other kids of ballplayers.

In all seriousness, this deal makes Lee the higest paid baseball player in town. His 5 year deal eclipses the 5 year, $60 million deal Paul Konerko signed over the winter. Lee's numbers were better than Konerko's and his bat is perhaps more critical to the Cubs success or failure. Will this large investment pay off for the Cubs? Chicagoist believe Lee is the right bat to build a lineup around, so locking up Lee through the prime of his career was a smart move. And locking up Lee now allows Jim Hendry to devote the off-season to shoring up their pitching situation.