Discussion: Lance Berkman

The Houston Astros will be faced with a decision regarding Lance Berkman's future at some point this year. The club holds a $15MM 2011 option for Berkman, and will have to figure out whether they want to retain their switch-hitting slugger or pay him a $2MM buyout.

Berkman and teammate Roy Oswalt have represented the faces of the franchise since the days of Bagwell and Biggio, and the Astros have long resisted entering rebuilding mode. After their payroll exceeded $100MM in 2009, the club spent another $30MM on Major League free agent contracts this winter. Declining Berkman's option could indicate a commitment to the rebuilding process, and may be the prudent financial move as well. Last season, the 34-year-old battled injuries and posted career lows in batting average and slugging percentage, hitting .274/.399/.509.

Berkman, for his part, has talked about seeing "what else is out there" if Houston declines his option. If he were to become a free agent next offseason, Berkman would be an interesting case. 2011's first base class is significantly less enticing than 2012's, which could potentially include Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, and Ryan Howard. Next winter, Berkman's competition in free agency would likely be players such as Derrek Lee, Adam Dunn, Carlos Pena, and Adam LaRoche. Considering the knee problems Berkman has already experienced this spring, it's plausible that he could follow the career trajectory of someone like Vladimir Guerrero, a still-dangerous hitter whose age and health questions have diminished his value.

A plethora of scenarios could play out before Opening Day 2011. Do you see the Astros declining Berkman's option, or perhaps even trying to trade him this season, should they fall out of contention? If Berkman enjoys a relatively healthy 2010 campaign, what sort of contract might he earn next winter, on the verge of turning 35?

27 Responses to Discussion: Lance Berkman Leave a Reply

  1. start_wearing_purple
    start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

    My bet is the Astros sign him to a contract that will be more than he’ll get on the open market. Though the real issue is the Astros have a horrible farm and a team that can’t even compete in the NL Central. They should try to trade him during the all star break, especially if the Pads don’t trade Gonzalez.

    • i miss brendan ryan's mustache 5 years ago

      He does have a NTC though, so you’d have to deal him somewhere he wants to go. Barring injury, there arent too many teams you would consider a contender now needing a 1B. So if that stays that way, that would probably drive the haul gotten for him down a little bit. Would it still be worth it to the astros to move him at that point? For most teams i would say yes, deal him. The way the stros spend enough money to just barely remain respectable, i think he’ll end up staying in Houston

  2. cbyrd411 5 years ago

    I think that they either pick up his option or sign him to about a two or three year deal with a low base salary and a lot of incentives. He is a hometown boy and Drayton knows what a fan favorite he is.

    • stl_cards16 5 years ago

      Exactly what I was thinking…meet him in the middle…about 2yr/20 mil…make sure they keep him but still give him more security for the future

  3. Andrew_EC 5 years ago

    He’s sort of an intelligence test for GMs. My guess is that the wildly optimistic Orioles wind up throwing a bunch of money at him.

  4. bannister19 5 years ago

    Jeff Bagwell is one of the greatest men to ever play this sport. He represents the face of baseball for the Houston Astros organization, and seeing the last of the Killer B’s leave Houston would be real disappointing.

  5. RahZid 5 years ago

    I could see the Astros trying to trade him at the deadline. I could see him getting 2 years $20M – $25M from an AL team if he repeats last years numbers.

  6. BK 5 years ago

    Prediction: The NL central is so bad that the Astros compete till the end of the season barely missing our making the playoffs. In an impulsive move they re-sign Berkman.

    • bannister19 5 years ago

      Astros have the pieces to contend.
      Nice bullpen with Lyon and Lindstrom
      Solid rotation with Wandy and Roy. Though after that it gets a little bad.

      Nice offense with Bourn, Pence, Berkman, and Lee.

    • stl_cards16 5 years ago

      So bad….this isn’t 2008 anymore….there are a few very good teams in the central

  7. Ferrariman 5 years ago

    Maybe he can DH for the rangers? 1year 9mil +2mil incents for games played + 11mil club option.

    That would be potentially the toughest heart of the line up in baseball with young-cruz-kinsler-berkman.

    • bannister19 5 years ago

      I say about 130 days of DL each season combined within the 4.
      They can even get Brandon Webb and Nick Johnson to go along with it.

      • Ferrariman 5 years ago

        That’s why I left out josh hamilton :/

        But if they stay healthy, they can give the twin/yanks a run for their money as best AL offense

      • Ferrariman 5 years ago

        That’s why I left out josh hamilton :/

        But if they stay healthy, they can give the twin/yanks a run for their money as best AL offense

  8. dire straits 5 years ago

    Interesting case indeed. I can see the Astros picking up his option even if they’re out of contention to demonstrate their dedication to the fans. If it doesn’t work out in 2011, they can trade him before the deadline for decent prospects (depending on how he’s doing individually, of course). It’s a win-win situation. Just one person’s opinion though.

  9. EdinsonPickle 5 years ago

    They should try to compete this year. Roy may be able to bounce back and Wandy is coming off a good year. Berkman and Lee while another year older can still put up some nice numbers. If they fall out of contention before the break though it’s time to start dealing.

    I love that Oswalt and Berkman have such a long history in Houston, but if they can’t win then it’s time to start over and build their way back to the top. I think that is going to be what ends up happening because the Astros just aren’t a very good team right now.

    Their rotation is pretty weak aside from Roy who is still a question mark and Wandy granted he can put up another year like 09, and their bullpen isn’t terrible it just isn’t all that flattering.

  10. lakersdodgersyankees4life 5 years ago

    I have a feeling that the Astros will realize they are lying to themselves about contending. I personally feel that Roy is past his ‘ace’ days. They have little to no farm system and a lot of bad contracts.

    With Berkman, I think he has a year similar to last year(a very good OPS, but not dominating numbers) and GMs get scared. They are drooling about the 2012 group, and no one wants to commit any serious money or length. He has to take either a 2 year deal as a DH/1B in the AL, or a 1 year deal in the NL.

    Even though the Astros will realize they are screwed for the future, they will ask for too much for Berkman and either not deal him or get a bad deal.

    Basically, the Astros will somehow screw this up lol

  11. mateodh 5 years ago

    I say keep Oswalt and Berkman around and see what prospects you can get out of Wandy and Lee(+$). Wandy is nice and cost-controlled, but older than most people seem to think, now might be his peak return value.

  12. I think they will keep him, but they’d probably be better served by grabbing Carlos Pena in free agency after the season. Younger, better defensively, and similar power (though he strikes out significantly more and doesn’t get on base as much). Plus, for a team that likes its character guys (Brett Myers notwithstanding), you don’t get much more good guy than Carlos Pena. He’s likable and marketable. And Berkman may be the face of the franchise now, but Hunter Pence is going to snag that label before too long.

    Believe it or not, Berkman actually played more games than Pena last season though. Still, I figure Berkman’s a much bigger precipitous breakdown/dropoff candidate than Pena.

  13. I love how its always fans of other teams that claim the astros are going to trade their star players. Every year, especially at the trade deadline, it happens. Its pretty simple. The astros are not going to trade oswalt, berkman, lee, pence or wandy. Berkman and Oswalt will retire as Astros. When that happens, I dont even think those players know. Drayton Mclane would never allow the PR nightmare that would occur if Oswalt or Berkman went elsewhere.

    • MJDWEST 5 years ago

      Brian (McTaggart) is that you?

      I agree with your take 100%. Drayton is a very loyal person. He’s loyal to his players and he’s loyal to his fans. He will not allow Berkman or Oswalt to play anywhere else. They will retire as Astros (like Bagwell & Biggio).

  14. Yankees10 5 years ago

    They need to re-sign him. He is one of the best players in franchise history and theface of the franchise.

  15. The ‘Stros are a poorly run franchise so whatever the right thing to do with Berkman is they’ll probably do the opposite. They aren’t going to contend so as soon as he get’s healthy they should look to unload him for prospects. I’m guessing that means Ed Wade and Drayton McClane will re-up him for about 7 years and $140 million or similar.

    • Guest 5 years ago

      Wow..this coming from a Cubs fan..of course. At least the Stros have seen the world series in the last century.

  16. 0vercast 5 years ago

    My guess is that the Astros decline and re-sign a deal of 3 years, so that he can play out his career as an Astro and the team won’t have to make a foolish commitment.

  17. Guest 5 years ago

    If you guys dont stick with berkman I would love to see Ryan Howard on your roster.. Im a huge Cards fan and Howard grew up down the street from me so to see Howard play against the Cards more often is a plus for me, St. louis, and of course the Stros!

  18. BIGPELF 5 years ago

    do you think that if berkman repeat the 2009 season hes going to be paid $15,000,000
    thats a lot of 000 for that kinf of performence

    but they can decline the option and sign him for 3 years

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