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.