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HOUSTON -- Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee has told the organization he prefers to remain a Cub rather than accept a trade, general manager Jim Hendry told ESPNChicago.com on Wednesday.
The Los Angeles Angels proposed a trade to the Cubs for Lee, according to a major league source, and Hendry approached Lee on July 21, when he was ready to make a trade. But Lee turned down the deal as is his right because he has been in the league for 10 years and five with the same team. He then told the team he wants to play out the last year of his Cubs contract, Hendry said. Lee also has a no-trade clause.
"When the trade was presented to me, I just felt the best thing for me and my family was to stay here," Lee said after the Cubs lost 8-1 to the Astros. "Jim and I had a great conversation about it. Jim's been great about the whole thing.
"[Rejecting the trade] was a baseball process. There's a lot of thought that goes into it, not just that I have a home [nearly finished in Los Angeles]. I thought about it for a good 24 hours, and agonized over it. The bottom line is my family and I like Chicago. I like my teammates, and that's just the decision I made."
The 34-year-old Lee said he has no plans to retire, and he would like to remain with the Cubs next season.Cubs manager Lou Piniella says he was "very pleased" to hear that Lee was staying with the team.
In his seventh season with the Cubs, Lee, has had chronic neck and back problems over the past few seasons but has played through them. He has struggled through his worst season as a Cub in 2010, batting .249 with 11 home runs and 44 RBIs.He is a lifetime .282 hitter with 304 home runs and 983 RBIs. His best season came in 2005 when he won the batting title for the Cubs with a .335 average, blasted 46 home runs and drove in 107. Lee was a member of the 2003 Marlins team that beat the Cubs in the National League Championship Series. Off the field, Lee has been active in raising money to fight Leber's Congenital Amaurosis, which is a rare, inherited retinal disease that afflicted his daughter Jada in 2006, when she was three. "I know Derrek is a great guy, and he's had a great run with the Chicago Cubs," White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said Wednesday on "The Afternoon Saloon" on ESPN 1000. "People can say whatever they want about how his year is going, but he's one of the best people I've ever met in baseball. "And there has to be more to the story than saying, 'Hey, I'm a 10-5 guy, I don't want to go anywhere.' It's tough to judge somebody when you don't know everything that's going on, from the top to the bottom." Pierzynski, who also has 10-5 rights, said Lee shouldn't be criticized for not green-lighting a trade to a contender. "Derrek Lee has earned that right," Pierzynski said. "It's something that not a lot of players have. If he's comfortable in Chicago, and he wants to stay in Chicago, he has that right. "I don't know the whole situation. I don't know what's going in Derrek's life. Maybe he believes the Cubs still have a chance. You don't know the whole situation. ... Sometimes you have to trust the guy's judgment. And maybe he likes their chances, and maybe they can get on a nice run and get back in the race." The Angels have needed a bat since first baseman Kendry Morales broke his leg celebrating a home run at the end of May. Angels general manager Tony Reagins was not willing to talk about the specifics of any proposed deals. "I'm not going to comment specifically about any player that's under contract with another club, but we have and we will continue to consider any move that would strengthen us," Reagins said. "We've inquired over the past months and reached out to several clubs regarding the availability of players on the offensive side that could help us." It was incorrectly reported earlier Wednesday that the Rangers had also proposed a trade for Lee.
Bruce Levine covers baseball for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark and The Associated Press contributed to this report.