Lance Berkman Rumors

2014 Vesting Options Update

As we close in on the month of May, let's check in on the players who have vesting options for the 2014 season…

  • Kurt Suzuki, Nationals: $9.25MM option vests with 113 starts in 2013.  Prior to Opening Day, the Nats announced that Suzuki would be in a timeshare with Wilson Ramos behind the plate.  However, Ramos' hamstring has led to Suzuki starting 16 of the club's 23 games so far in 2013. Ramos is scheduled to rejoin the club on Monday, but if he suffers another setback, Suzuki could have a realistic shot at triggering his '14 option.
  • Jamey Carroll, Twins: $2MM option vests with 401 plate appearances.  Carroll has surpassed that mark in each of the last three seasons with 500+ plate appearances in each of the last two years, but he has just 18 PAs as April comes to a close.
  • Wilson Betemit, Orioles: $3.2MM option vests with 324 plate appearances (combined 700 between 2012 and 2013).  Betemit suffered a PCL tear during the last week of Spring Training, keeping him out of action until at least mid-May.  When he returns, he figures to see less action than he did last year thanks to Manny Machado
  • Lance Berkman, Rangers: $13MM option vests with 550 plate appearances.  So far, Berkman has 19 games under his belt with 80 plate appearances.  He'll be within reach as long as he stays healthy.  In 2011, his last full season, Berkman racked up 587 PAs for the Cardinals.
  • Roy Halladay, Phillies: $20MM option vests with 259 innings pitched (combined 415 innings pitched between '12 and '13).  So far, Halladay has logged 28 and 1/3 innings through five April starts but the 259 mark remains a longshot.  However, it's worth nothing that Halladay has come close to that figure twice in the last six years (2008, 246 IP; 2010, 250.2 IP) and surpassed it once in his career (2003, 266 IP).
  • Brett Myers, Indians: $8MM option vests with 200 innings pitched in 2013 and a passed physical after the season.  Myers is expected to miss most of May due to tendinitis and a mild ligament sprain in his right elbow.  So far, the right-hander has 21 and 1/3 innings to his credit in 2013.
  • Barry Zito, Giants: $18MM option vests with 200 innings pitched.  Zito has 23 and 2/3 innings so far through the month of April and will make his fifth start of the year tonight against the Padres.
  • Johan Santana, Mets: His $25MM option could have vested with 215 innings pitched or winning the 2013 Cy Young Award, but he won't have a chance at that thanks to a season-ending tear in his pitching shoulder.

It's also worth noting that Francisco Liriano has a $8MM club option for 2014 with the Pirates, but it can vest at any of three levels, $5MM, $6MM, or $8MM, based on the number of days he is not on the DL this year with a recurrence of his right arm injury.  It's not known how many days the hurler must steer clear of right arm trouble in order to trigger each level of his option, however.  Liriano has yet to take the hill in 2013, but he is expected to make his big league debut on May 10th vs. the Mets.  


2014 Vesting Options

Recently, I crunched the numbers on vesting options from the last three years and found that just over 29% of them were triggered.  Which players can lock in their 2014 options based on their performance this season?  Let's take a look..

  • Kurt Suzuki, Nationals: $9.25MM option vests with 113 starts in 2013.
  • Jamey Carroll, Twins: $2MM option vests with 401 plate appearances.
  • Wilson Betemit, Orioles: $3.2MM option vests with 324 plate appearances (combined 700 between 2012 and 2013).
  • Lance Berkman, Rangers: $13MM option vests with 550 plate appearances.
  • Roy Halladay, Phillies: $20MM option vests with 259 innings pitched (combined 415 innings pitched between '12 and '13).
  • Barry Zito, Giants: $18MM option vests with 200 innings pitched.
  • Johan Santana, Mets: $25MM option vests with 215 innings pitched or winning the 2013 Cy Young Award.

It's also worth noting that Francisco Liriano has a $8MM club option for 2014 with the Pirates, but it can vest at any of three levels, $5MM, $6MM, or $8MM, based on the number of days he is not on the DL this year with a recurrence of his right arm injury.


Rangers Notes: Andrus, Berkman, Borbon

Here's the latest news out of Surprise, Arizona, as the Rangers begin their Spring Training preparations…

  • Elvis Andrus told reporters (including Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News) that he'd be happy to continue exploring a multiyear extension with Texas.  “If they want to keep talking and get to a point where there is a really great offer for my future, yeah, I’d do it for sure,” Andrus said.  The team has interest in locking Andrus up, though Grant notes the two sides haven't made much progress in limited negotiations this winter.
  • Grant speculates that Andrus and agent Scott Boras' idea of "a really great offer" might be an eight- or ten-year contract with an average annual value of around $15MM.  The Yankees could be a "looming" factor in negotiations, Grant writes, as Andrus is under contract through the 2014 season, which is also when Derek Jeter's contract will be up.
  • Lance Berkman talked to MLB.com's Alyson Footer about his decision to sign with the Rangers, his injury concerns and how close he came to retiring this offseason.  Health permitting, Berkman said that he would like to play two more seasons before calling it a career.
  • Julio Borbon is facing a make-or-break situation in Spring Training but the outfielder told reporters (including ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett) that he changed his offseason regimen and is confident of making the Opening Day roster.  Borbon is out of options and would have to clear waivers to be sent to the minors, though the Rangers may not have room for him with Craig Gentry, Leonys Martin and Mike Olt all in the mix for part-time outfield jobs.


Rosenthal On Padres, Orioles, Rockies, Phillies

The Orioles showed serious interest in Justin Upton before talks with the Diamondbacks sputtered, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported last night. Here are some more of Rosenthal’s notes from around MLB…

  • Rosenthal hears from one executive who expects the Padres to make another significant move. However, the Padres like their group of young starting pitchers and aren’t inclined to make a strong play for one of the remaining free agent starters. San Diego could still trade for a pitcher such as Rick Porcello, Luke Hochevar or Aaron Harang.
  • Talks about a deal involving Upton and Chase Headley didn’t progress, Rosenthal reports.
  • The Orioles continue seeking starting pitching and Joe Saunders remains a target. The Orioles also checked in on Porcello, according to Rosenthal.
  • Though the Orioles spoke with Lance Berkman before he signed with the Rangers, they weren’t interested in spending big for the switch-hitting DH.
  • Jeff Karstens, Derek Lowe, Aaron Cook and Jair Jurrjens are among the possibilities the Rockies are considering. The Rockies wouldn’t offer all of those pitchers Major League deals, however.
  • Rosenthal suggests free agent reliever Rafael Soriano could be a longshot for the Rockies. Colorado would have to surrender its second round draft pick to sign the Scott Boras client.
  • The Phillies continue seeking a right-handed hitting outfielder, Rosenthal reports. They’re still considering free agent Scott Hairston and trade candidates Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells. It’s possible the Phillies will go with platoons in both corner outfield positions.

Rangers Sign Lance Berkman

After losing Josh Hamilton to free agency, the Rangers have turned to Lance Berkman to add some thunder to the lineup.  The team officially announced the signing of the Big Puma to a one-year deal with vesting option for 2014. The Moye Sports Associates client reportedly will receive a $10MM salary with, and his $13MM vesting option triggers at 550 plate appearances. If he fails to reach 550 plate appearances, the club can still exercise a $12MM option or elect a $1MM buyout.

Lanceberkman

Berkman will bring offense to a Texas team that lost a good amount of pop this winter and missed out on some of its favorite targets.  After the departures of Hamilton, Mike Napoli, and Michael Young, Berkman will be expected to be more than a feel-good story in his return to the Lone Star State.

Last week it was reported that the Rangers along with the Orioles, Yankees, and Astros were all interested in the veteran's services.  Berkman wasn't sure if he wanted to play in 2013, but it would appear that a pitch spearheaded by team president Nolan Ryan was enough to lure him away from retirement.

Berkman, who turns 37 in February, played in just 32 games for the Cardinals last season thanks to a left calf injury and a torn meniscus in his right knee.  In his one season and change in St. Louis, Berkman posted a .295/.408/.533 slash line with 33 homers in 177 games.

The Rays and the Red Sox also had documented interest in Berkman this winter.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first first reported that an agreement was being finalized, with Jon Heyman of CBS Sports confirming the financial details of the contract (on Twitter). Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (all Twitter links) and ESPN's Richard Durrett (via Twitter) added details surrounding Berkman's 2014 option.

Mike Axisa and Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Rosenthal On Berkman, Sizemore

The latest notes from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports…

  • The Yankees were in on Lance Berkman before he signed a one-year, $11MM contract with Texas, Rosenthal reports (on Twitter). Two people tell Rosenthal the Yankees made Berkman an offer, while a third source says the sides simply talked.
  • Free agent outfielder Grady Sizemore doesn’t want to sign a new contract until he’s ready to play again, agent Joe Urbon told Rosenthal. The 30-year-old underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee in September, and isn’t ready to commit to a team just yet. “It could be Opening Day. It could be midseason,” Urbon said. “Midseason is more likely.” The CAA agent added that a number of teams have expressed interest in Sizemore. Some of those teams have offered to sign the 30-year-old and let him rehab on his own schedule.

Reactions To The Lance Berkman Signing

The Rangers and Lance Berkman agreed to a one-year contract with a vesting option earlier today, plugging the team's DH hole. Berkman will receive $10MM in 2013 with a $1MM buyout of the option. Here is a collection of news and reactions to the deal…

  • "It never really got past the tire-kicking phase," said Berkman to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart when asked about talks with the Astros (all Twitter links). Houston never made an offer and the two sides only discussed contract parameters. "I have nothing but good things to say about the Astros organization and the way our negotiations went," added Berkman.
  • The Red Sox showed interest in Berkman before he signed with Texas, reports WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. Talks never gained momentum due to his geographical preferences, however.
  • The Orioles also kicked the tires on Berkman according to Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com (on Twitter). They moved on due to his asking price.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says Berkman is the type of hitter the Rangers have rarely had, meaning he's patient and willing to use the entire field (all Twitter links).
  • Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is "stunned" at the size of Berkman's contract (Twitter link). He assumes the Rangers thoroughly reviewed the medicals.

Yankees, Astros, Rangers, O’s Interested In Berkman

7:18pm: The Yankees also have interest in Berkman, reports Ken Davidoff of The New York Post (on Twitter). Berkman spent time with New York in 2011, but Davidoff says it's unclear if he would consider a reunion since the two Texas teams are involved.

4:17pm: Nolan Ryan confirmed to Berman that the Rangers have an offer out to Berkman (Twitter link). "We are looking for a designated hitter," Ryan said. "We feel like he would fill that bill."

3:27pm: Houston GM Jeff Luhnow told Mark Berman of FOX 26 in Houston that he has been in contact with Berkman (Twitter link). The sides spoke yesterday and today and talks are ongoing.

2:23pm: The Rangers are trying to talk Berkman into playing next year, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Team president Nolan Ryan is said to be leading the Rangers' pursuit of Berkman, Heyman writes. Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com confirms the Orioles’ interest, noting that they have reached out “informally” (Twitter link).

9:01am: Lance Berkman said he’s “still a little bit in limbo” as he considers his options for 2013, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The switch hitting first baseman/designated hitter received two offers before Christmas and hopes to resume discussions with interested teams.

The Rangers have reached out, and the Rays and Red Sox are also interested. Goold adds a third AL East team to the list of Berkman’s suitors: the Baltimore Orioles. It's clear that Berkman has opportunities, but he suggested he’d have to be well-compensated to return for another season.

“If I’m going to play, I’m going to give my heart and soul to the team,” he told the Post-Dispatch. “But if the carrot’s not big enough, the mule isn’t going to want to go.”

Berkman, a Texas native, added that the Rangers have a geographic advantage. His first MLB team, the Astros, could also have interest. But now that the Astros have added Carlos Pena, Houston’s not an ideal fit.

Berkman missed most of the 2012 season because of knee injuries. When healthy he hit .259/.381/.444 in 97 plate appearances for the Cardinals. Moye Sports Associates represents the 14-year MLB veteran, who turns 37 next month.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.


Lance Berkman Talking With Rangers

Free agent Lance Berkman still hasn't decided on playing in 2013, but he is talking about a possible return with the Rangers and other clubs, major league sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Astros remain open to bringing him back, even after signing free-agent first baseman Carlos Pena, but the Rangers would obviously give the veteran a better chance to win. 

Berkman is one of many options that the Rangers are considering, sources say.  Texas lost outfielder Josh Hamilton to the Angels, traded third baseman Michael Young to the Phillies, and lost catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli to the Red Sox, assuming the deal is completed.  Even if that deal falls through, the odds of a reunion are slim as they already added free agent catchers A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto.

The 36-year-old has said that he wants to spend more time with his family but also admitted that the lure of playing one more season at a lucrative rate might be too hard to ignore.  Last night we learned that the Red Sox are no longer believed to be in on Berkman even though they expressed some interest earlier in the winter.


Red Sox Looking At Bobby Abreu

TUESDAY, 3:58pm: A major league source somewhat dismissively labeled the trip as "background work" and "nothing more than a scouting assignment" in a conversation with Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.  Abreu would be a possible fit as another left-handed-hitting outfielder to split time with Jonny Gomes in left field, but he turns 39 in March and hit just .242/.350/.342 in 257 PAs for the Angels and Dodgers.

The Red Sox also expressed some interest in fellow available veteran Lance Berkman, but they are not believed to still be considering him.  Recently, a team official said the Sox would be "comfortable" with either Ryan Kalish or Daniel Nava splitting time with Gomes, but cautioned that a move for another outfielder couldn't be ruled out. 

MONDAY, 4:07pm: The Red Sox have worked out Bobby Abreu in Venezuela, including putting the veteran outfielder through drills at first base, reports Rafael Tejera (WEEI.com's Alex Speier confirms it through a Major League source).  Speier notes that the workout may have been a case of "due diligence" for both Abreu and the Sox as Abreu has no professional experience as a first baseman and may not even be interested in playing the position.

After being released by the Angels and designated for assignment by the Dodgers in 2012, however, Abreu may have little room to argue a position change if he wants another contract with a Major League team.  Abreu hit three home runs and had a slash line of .242/.350/.342 in 257 PAs for the two Los Angeles teams last season, with the .693 OPS standing as a career-low for the 17-year veteran.

Abreu, 38, is a below-average defender in the outfield and wouldn't see much time at DH in Boston with David Ortiz in the fold, so first base might be his only opportunity for even semi-regular playing time as part of a platoon.  The Red Sox still have a tentative agreement with Mike Napoli though that deal has been under renegotiation for weeks due to concerns about Napoli's hip, and the Sox have also talked to free agent Adam LaRoche about filling their hole at first base.