Chicago Cubs: Looking back at impact offseason trades
Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
November 24, 2003: The Cubs got Derrek Lee from the Florida Marlins for Hee-Seop Choi and Mike Nannini.
Just a month prior to this trade, Derrek Lee, and the Florida Marlins had eliminated the Cubs in the National League Championship Series. They then did something typically Marlin-esque: they started unloading several of their key players. In this case, the Cubs were big beneficiaries.
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At the time, parting ways with Hee-Seop Choi made some fans nervous. He was young. He had shown some flashes of being a decent first baseman.
And he was a fan favorite, having inspired his own unique cheer at Wrigley Field (“Hee! Seop! Choi!”) Lee had shown great success with the Marlins, but this was not a slam dunk deal.
By then end of the 2004 season, Lee had changed minds. He clubbed 32 homers, drove in 98 runs, and played great defense. He brought an extremely important aspect to the Cubs, too: plate discipline.
Surrounded by players like Sammy Sosa and Aramis Ramirez, who were not known for taking walks, Lee displayed a patience at the plate that began to change the Cubs “swing-first” mentality.
Lee’s best years came in a Cubs uniform. He played in two All-Star games, won two Gold Gloves as a Cub, and was a key contributor to Cubs’ playoff teams of the 2000’s. In the meantime, Nannini never played in the majors and Choi bounced around for two years before going back to play in his native South Korea.
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