7:59pm: Berkman shared his side of the conversation he had with GM Ed Wade, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com:
"I'm not demanding to be traded," the five-time All-Star said. "I'm perfectly content to be a Houston Astro. We were just talking hypothetical."
McTaggart also points out that Berkman has said several times in recent years that he would be willing to waive his full no-trade clause if the situation was right.
5:48pm: Some within the Astros believe that Berkman may be trying to employ reverse psychology in an effort to pressure the club into picking up his option, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Houston owner Drayton McLane is not a fan of giving up on seasons or trading away veteran players.
Meanwhile, GM Ed Wade doesn't seem terribly concerned about Berkman's comments. He recounted the conversation he had with the outfielder last night:
"Don’t worry about it, players have every right to make whatever comments they want to the media. Focus on showing up and winning tomorrow."
The 34-year-old is hitting .213/.327/.404 with 2 HRs in 55 plate appearances this season.
10:28am: Lance Berkman would be willing to waive his no-trade clause if the Astros approach him with a deal to a contender later this season, reports Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle. Berkman explained his feelings:
"If it was me and I was running the show here, if we didn't make a great comeback like we did in '05 and be sort of around .500 by the All-Star break, I'd try to trade every veteran I could to reload. That's the quickest way you're going to be able to reload and get it going in the right direction. As a player, if they came to me and said, 'Hey, we've got a deal to go to a contender,' I'd take it. Heck, it's only a three- or four-month deal. It's not like I'm signing on for 10 years with another team."
Berkman opined that the Astros should try to avoid what he calls "baseball purgatory — where you're not really getting young and you're not really (competing). Where you're in this deal where every year you're signing a marginal veteran and you just never get in the mix."
Berkman's "take one for the team" approach to his no-trade clause is an interesting position, as a few months ago he talked about taking his ball and going home if the Astros didn't exercise his $15MM club option for 2011 after the season. He does still prefer to retire an Astro.
As I mentioned yesterday, quitting on a season is not the Astros' style. But Berkman, even at age 34 and coming off knee surgery, could give a contender an offensive boost while saving the Astros over $5MM. The Red Sox, A's, White Sox, and Mariners could be fits if Berkman is open to DHing, while it's more difficult to find an NL contender with a first base opening. Perhaps the Braves, depending on how Troy Glaus is doing a month or two from now.