Multiple sources are reporting Wednesday that the Cubs are close to shipping Derrek Lee to the Braves.  It’s believed that the Cubs would get some combination of minor leaguers in return.  While Lee declined to comment on the rumors prior to Wednesday’s game against the Padres and General Manager Jim Hendry did not speak to reporters, Lou Piniella said he prefers to stay out of the process.  “When we were in the same situation with Lilly, I don’t get involved in that area,” Piniella said.  “I really don’t want to know because usually in these type of deals–if they’re made–you’re getting players that would go into the minor league system.”

Lee has a full no-trade clause and, earlier this month, vetoed a deal that would have sent him to the Los Angeles Angels.  There’s about $3.4M left on Lee’s contract and the sticking point, say many reports, is just how much of the contract the Cubs will pay.  Lee has been battling a bulging disc for a number of days and received an epidural to help him deal with the pain.  That epidural will keep him out of any action–be it as a Cub or Brave–until at least Thursday.

What’s interesting here is that the Cubs host a three-game series against the Braves at Wrigley field and, should the deal go down, Cubs fans will still have an opportunity to see a fan favorite.  Since signing with the Cubs as a free agent in 2004, Lee has hit .298 with 179 home runs and 574 RBI.  His most prolific season, by far, was 2005 when Lee finished 3rd in the MVP voting after hitting .335 with 46 homers and 107 RBI.  Lee’s current deal is set to expire at the end of the season.