Sunday, January 6, 2013

Divisional News: Lance Berkman Signs with Rangers

          The Texas Rangers have accordingly signed free agent 1B/DH Lance Berkman to a one year contract worth approximately $10-11 million dollars. The deal also vests an option for the 2014 if Berkman makes at least 550 plate appearances, which may be a long shot due to his recent injury history and age. The now 36 year-old Berkman was originally drafted in the first round of the 1997 draft by his hometown Houston Astros. He got his first crack of major league experience with Houston in 1999 and quickly solidified his place as one of MLB's best first baseman/outfielders being named to five All-Star teams and making a trip to the 2005 World Series, where Houston was eventually beat by the Chicago White Sox. After parts of 12 seasons with the club, Berkman was dealt to the New York Yankees at the 2010 Trade Deadline. Berkman's time in the Bronx was short lived and certainly one to forget as he batted just .255 with only one home-run. Then, during the following offseason, Berkman found a home with the St. Louis Cardinals where he quickly returned to his old form hitting .301 with 31 home-runs and a total of 94 runs which earned him a trip to the 2011 All-Star Game, the League's Comeback Player of the Year honors and most importantly, a World Series ring. However 2012 was a different story, Berkman missed all but 31 games with the Cardinals due to injury problems, which lead to him debating on retirement or returning for another MLB season. He drew plenty of interest from contending teams who were looking for a veteran designated hitter before signing the deal with the Rangers.

          In my opinion the Rangers way overpaid Berkman. I am aware that the Rangers were looking for a big bat to replace Hamilton, Young, and Napoli, who all departed this offseason, but this is a guy who wasn't even sure if he was going to play in 2012 or not. This immediately sends sirens all over my head. Berkman, like almost all major leaguers, is a competitor and I'm sure that at 36, if he felt 100% confident in his ability and rehab process, he wouldn't of been questioning whether to retire or not, instead focusing on getting a deal and getting back on the diamond, this makes me wonder if Berkman knows something we don't, but that is what physicals are for and he will undergo one in Texas Monday afternoon before the deal is officially announced, that is unless Texas finds something alarming in his physical. I highly doubt the signing of Berkman will effect the Rangers interest in free agent outfielder Michael Bourn or Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton, whom the Rangers have been linked to since November, that is if the Rangers have any interest in them or not. Overall I would give this signing a C+. While Berkman is an upgrade over the other DH candidates that the Rangers have, there are just to many questions and concerns for me to give him $10 million dollars, but hey, maybe that's why I'm not a general manager.

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