Lance Berkman Rumors
Here's the latest from around the league, on the night Yu Darvish made his MLB debut...
- Padres owner John Moore has retained investment banker Steve Greenberg to broker a sale of the club, reports Dan Hayes of The North County Times. Hayes says the club could fetch up to $700MM after the Dodgers sold for $2 billion last month.
- "If I could go back in time, I would have explored free agency earlier in my career," Lance Berkman told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The veteran missed the boat on truly massive contracts for first basemen, but he's still earned upwards of $100MM over the course of his career. Berkman, 36, is earning $12MM this year from the Cardinals.
- Giants owner Charles Johnson told Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle that he plans to stay out of the club's day-to-day operations. The billionaire upped his stake in the club in September 2011, making him the team's top shareholder.
- In his latest mailbag, MLB.com's Bill Chastain says that he wouldn't be so sure that Rays fans have seen the last of Wade Davis as a starter. James Shields will make $12MM in 2013 and it's not clear if the Rays will bring him back at that number or deal him. If that were to happen then Davis would likely return to the rotation.
- Many writers scoffed when the Royals handed the closer’s role to Jonathan Broxton this spring, but so far it looks like he might be ready to return to form, writes J.P. Breen of Fangraphs. The 27-year-old's deal is worth $4MM plus $1MM in incentives based on games pitched.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
The Cardinals edged the Braves out for the National League Wild Card and are now preparing for their Division Series matchup against the Phillies. Here are some Cardinals-related links, as we await tomorrow's Kyle Lohse-Roy Halladay contest...
- Lance Berkman told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he doesn't question his durability the way others do. The switch-hitting slugger adds that he feels great about his resurgent season and recent $12MM contract extension.
- Everyone wants to know how the Cardinals completed a seemingly impossible comeback and GM John Mozeliak tells Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch that the team succeeded because the starters pitched deeper into games and the bullpen became "more credible and more functional."
- Cardinals players told Strauss that they were impressed by the July trade that brought Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, and Corey Patterson to St. Louis. Here's a complete recap of Mozeliak's in-season trades.
With some Major League teams restricting players from consuming energy drinks, you'll have to rely on these late-night news items to perk you up...
- The Cardinals' re-signing of Lance Berkman is a good move for several reasons, argues Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Berkman's presence will help convince Albert Pujols that the Cards can remain competitive or, if Pujols did leave, Berkman could replace Pujols as the club's first baseman.
- Speaking of Pujols, Tony La Russa praised his star for not being distracted by his pending free agency, reports MLB.com's Steve Overbey. La Russa also commented on Pujols' future, saying "I just know both parties want to stay here, so I'm hopeful it will work out." No doubt Pujols' decision will factor heavily in La Russa's own decision about exercising his side of the mutual option on his contract for 2012.
- Leo Nunez (a.k.a. Juan Carlos Oviedo) could face jail time in the Dominican Republic for using a false identity, reports Ezra Fieser and Frances Robles of the Miami Herald.
- The Mets recently signed 16-year-old, Venezuelan right-hander Luis Carreno, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.
- Scouts from around baseball are telling Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that they won't be going to see Moneyball given how the A's scouts are portrayed in the movie. Slusser herself objected to how former A's manager Art Howe was turned into "a villain" in the picture. "It’s essentially character assasination of a man who is well-liked all over the sport," Slusser writes.
- For more on Moneyball, check out my review of the film.
8:00pm: Berkman's extension includes a full no-trade clause, tweets Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
10:43am: Headed for a potentially turbulent winter, the Cardinals made the rest of their offseason that much simpler today, agreeing to a one-year, $12MM extension with Lance Berkman. The sides had been discussing a possible deal this month, though talks had appeared to lose momentum.
The Cardinals have announced the deal (Twitter link) and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch added (on Twitter) the value of the deal and that no money is deferred. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes suggested on Tuesday that a $12MM deal would be a fair compromise.
Berkman, 35, has enjoyed a resurgent season in St. Louis, hitting 31 homers and posting a .300/.412/.555 line through 558 plate appearances. The switch-hitter has played first base and both corner outfield positions for the Cardinals this year. He leads the league with an OPS+ of 169 and has added 4.6 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs.
The Cardinals, who are gaining ground in the National League Wild Card race, also extended Chris Carpenter this month. They have signed five players to extensions during the month of September since GM John Mozeliak took over. Only one other MLB team has extended a player during the final month of the regular season in that time (Tim Byrdak of the Mets signed an extension this month).
Contract talks between right fielder Lance Berkman and the Cardinals have slowed due to a difference of opinion over the player's worth, writes Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Ideally the Cardinals would wrap up new contracts with Berkman and Rafael Furcal before month's end, leaving fewer question marks heading into the Albert Pujols negotiations. They extended Chris Carpenter earlier this month.
Berkman had plenty to say to Strauss on the topic of his next contract. He told Strauss "this is not an adversarial situation," but explained, "It's always about money. No matter what people say, it's always about the money."
Berkman made additional comments that imply the Cardinals are trying to attach an option year or incentives to a potential one-year deal, whereas he wants one year with no strings attached. Berkman appears to believe that he'll be taking a discount to re-sign with St. Louis, as in his opinion his production isn't that far off from Pujols and Prince Fielder.
The big difference is that Berkman will turn 36 in February, and the over/under on his games played for 2012 should be set around 135. His production with the Cardinals has returned to his '08 level, as Berkman is hitting .299/.412/.558 with 31 home runs in 549 plate appearances. I think a salary around $12MM would be a fair compromise.
The Cardinals still don't know whether or not Albert Pujols will be playing in St. Louis past this season, and the team is making moves to prepare for either scenario, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cards are currently negotiating with the agents of Lance Berkman and Rafael Furcal in an effort to retain both players on short-term deals. Strauss adds that the team hopes Pujols' future will be decided no later than December 11th. Here's the latest on a couple other NL Central clubs:
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wonders which teams will pursue Prince Fielder this winter. He essentially rules out the Brewers, and runs through a few other possibilities.
- The Cubs' new GM may have some work to do on the starting rotation, but the bullpen is looking strong, writes Toni Ginnetti of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- With no GM in place, the Cubs' 2012 manager is still a question mark, but Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe thinks hiring Ryne Sandberg would provide a major public relations bump for owner Tom Ricketts. Chicago would embrace Sandberg's "lunchpail mentality," says Cafardo.
Some news from the NL Central...
- Lance Berkman could be targeted by the Brewers as a replacement for Prince Fielder, opines Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). I'd suspect that Berkman will get a lot of interest from teams that miss out on Fielder and Albert Pujols this winter.
- Berkman, Rafael Furcal and, of course, Pujols are the biggest question marks for the Cardinals heading into the offseason, writes MLB.com's Matthew Leach, but overall, Leach thinks the 2012 Cards will look much like the 2011 team. Both Leach and Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch indicate that the Cardinals' bullpen is stable, but the team could add another left-handed reliever. Gordon notes that Arthur Rhodes wants to return to St. Louis next year.
- Brett Myers could be trade bait after the season, but MLB.com's Brian McTaggart thinks the Astros could do worse than holding onto Myers to eat innings and provide a veteran presence in the rotation. McTaggart also discusses the Astros' proposed shift to the American League and the Carlos Lee/Brett Wallace first base situation as part of this fan mailbag.
- Chip Bailey of the Houston Chronicle suggests a few areas where the young Astros could look to add veteran parts for next season.
- The Pirates claimed catcher Matt Pagnozzi off waivers from the Rockies yesterday, but Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets that the Bucs originally tried to get Pagnozzi in June before instead acquiring Michael McKenry from Boston. Biertempfel also says the Pirates are looking at Pagnozzi just as a possible backup in 2012, not as a starter (Twitter link).
- With the Brewers so close to the playoffs, Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wonders why Fielder and Francisco Rodriguez chose to discuss their likely departure and displeasure with not closing games, respectively.
- Ben Nicholson-Smith delivered another set of NL Central news items earlier today on MLBTR.
Aramis Ramirez, whose solo homer helped the Cubs beat the Reds tonight, will be looking for a multiyear deal this offseason. Here’s the latest from his division, with updates on his current club and the team that first signed him...
- There's no guarantee that Lance Berkman will be back in St. Louis next year, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes (on Twitter). Berkman has leverage, so a new deal is not a "slam dunk."
- For more on the Cardinals’ offseason plans, click here.
- The Cubs have held internal discussions about Jeff Samardzija as a candidate for the starting rotation, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. The Cubs have less rotation depth than they did earlier this year, as Wittenmyer explains. The right-hander has started five MLB games, but all 69 of his 2011 appearances have been in relief.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that he doesn't want to discuss his contract, which expires after the 2011 season. "It's not for public consumption,” he said. “It's not worth commenting on it."
- MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes discussed the free agent prospects of Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez earlier today.
- The Pirates have notified their Venezuelan academy that they're going to end their lease and stop participating in the Venezuelan Summer League, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Pittsburgh will field two teams in the Dominican Summer League next year, however.
The Cardinals have won five in a row and come into the day just 4.5 games back of the Braves for the NL Wildcard, making things unexpectedly interesting in the season's final weeks. Let's round up the latest from St. Louis...
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports confirms the report of Chris Carpenter's two-year extension, and he likes the deal for both sides (Twitter links). The team saves some cash while Carpenter gets more guaranteed money.
- With Carpenter locked up and Adam Wainwright on his way back from Tommy John surgery, the Cardinals' 2012 rotation looks pretty strong, writes Roger Hensley of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Those two will join Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia.
- GM John Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he wants to use the final weeks of the regular season and the first few weeks of October "to lock-in existing free agents and clear up any questions for 2012," beyond Albert Pujols. There are ongoing talks with Rafael Furcal's representatives, and Lance Berkman has already given the team a sense of what it would take for him to return next year.
Weather permitting, Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg will make his 2011 MLB debut tonight, almost one year from the day of having Tommy John surgery performed on his elbow. Whether or not Strasmas is cancelled, here are today's links...
- Strasburg still needs to knock a little rust off his command, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told ESPN's Jayson Stark. Stark takes the stance that the Nationals are not rushing Strasburg back. Stark's colleague Keith Law has a fantastic article discussing the Tommy John procedure and recovery, with help from pitchers Jarrod Parker and Chad Durbin. For a look at what Strasburg did during his down time and how he's changed in the last year, check out Dave Sheinin's article from the Washington Post.
- SI's Jon Heyman hears that the Cardinals are "not completely confident" Albert Pujols will remain in St. Louis, which is one reason they didn't trade Lance Berkman (Twitter link).
- The Chicago Sun-Times talked to Tim Wilken, the Cubs' director of amateur and professional scouting, about the possibility of an extension in the wake of Oneri Fleita's four-year deal. Such a move would quickly sour many Cubs GM candidates, hears Yahoo's Jeff Passan (Twitter link). Wilken recently told Baseball America's Phil Rogers that it's been 20 years since he's had the kind of ownership commitment toward draft and international free agent spending that he had in 2011.
- NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman explains why he's predicted against Yu Darvish being posted in past years, but also outlines why he can see the righty being posted this winter.
- Tigers righty Doug Fister has "basically turned himself into the modern version of Brad Radke," writes Dave Cameron of FanGraphs. Does he represent the best acquisition by a contender this summer? Hunter Pence belongs in that discussion as well.