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Dodgers talking to Astros about acquiring Carlos Lee

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist

LOS ANGELES -- Banged up and hurting offensively right now, the Dodgers are talking with the Astros about a potential trade involving first baseman-outfielder Carlos Lee, sources said Friday night.

The Dodgers, if Lee can be induced to waive his no-trade clause, would absorb most of the remaining $9 million on his contract, according to sources with knowledge of the talks, and send a low-level minor-leaguer to Houston.

With Matt Kemp (hamstring) on the disabled list and Andre Ethier (oblique) out of the lineup the last couple of days, a season-long struggle to score runs has become even more pronounced for the Dodgers. They ranked 11th in the NL in runs scored entering Friday night's game with the Mets.

Worse, their first basemen -- mostly the disappointing James Loney and Juan Rivera -- have combined for only a .641 OPS this season, 26th among major-league clubs.

Lee, 36, is hitting .290 with five homers and 29 RBIs in 60 games for the Astros this season. He is in the final year of a six-year, $100 million deal signed before the 2007 season that ranks as one of the worst contracts in Houston's history.

The Dodgers are included among the clubs listed in Lee's limited no-trade clause. And in the past, he has shown no interest in playing on the West Coast.

But if he can be convinced to move west, with only half-a-season left on the deal, Lee would represent at least a slight upgrade over the Loney/Rivera combination.

He's also exactly the kind of player the Dodgers are looking for as the July trade deadline approaches. With not much to give up in their farm system, Los Angeles' new ownership would prefer to take players who maybe would be cost-prohibitive to other clubs if it allows the Dodgers to retain their top prospects.

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