Lee, 35, hit .246 with 15 doubles, 12 homeruns and 41 RBI in 85 games with Baltimore this season after signing with the Orioles as a free agent in January. He has been hot lately, however; in 15 games since the All-Star break, Lee has gone 17-for-57 (.298) with three home runs and 13 RBI.
The Pirates have been searching for a veteran rightfielder or first baseman to help their sagging offense, which has been hit hard by injuries and under-performance. Lee will replace Lyle Overbay as the team’s everyday first baseman for the stretch run. The Bucs currently trail Milwaukee by 3 1/3 games in a crowded National League Central race.
“We are pleased to add a quality veteran player like Derrek Lee to our ballclub,” said Huntington. “He is an experienced, productive right-handed hitter and solid defender who should add to our team on the field and in the clubhouse.”
Now in his 15th big league season, Lee has compiled a .281 batting average, 430 doubles, 29 triples, 324 home runs and 1,060 RBI in 1,914 career games. He made his big league debut with the San Diego Padres in 1997 and has also seen action with the Marlins (1998-2003), Cubs (2004-2010) and Braves (2010). A two-time National League All-Star (2005 and 2007), Lee also captured three Gold Glove Awards (2003, 2005, 2007) during his time in the National League.
Lee’s best season was in 2005 with the Cubs, when he hit .335 with 46 homers and 104 RBI, finishing third in N.L. MVP voting.
He was 0-for-4 Saturday in what became his final game for the Orioles. The O’s removed him in the eighth inning of Game 1 of their doubleheader with the New York Yankees. He was out of the lineup for Game 2. Following the game, several Orioles teammates came over to Lee at his locker to ask about the trade and say goodbye with a hug or handshake. He is a free agent after this season.
“It’s the business of baseball,” Lee said when asked about the trade. “[The Pirates] are playing good. They turned it around, so good for them.”
The 23-year-old Baker hit .282 with 21 doubles, 15 home runs and 73 RBI in 103 games with Class-A Bradenton this season. The left-handed hitter was Pittsburgh’s 11th-round selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Pirates have transferred catcher Ryan Doumit to the 60-day disabled list (was eligible to come off the D.L. on July 29).
The Pirates will make a corresponding move to their active roster once Lee officially reports.