The point of the piece, authored by Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle, was to get Lance Berkman‘s input on the search for the next manager of the Houston Astros (In case you’re wondering, he likes Tim Bogar a lot). But within the interview, Berkman spoke about potentially returning to his long-time former club as a designated hitter in 2013.
“You get to a certain point in your career and you want to play for something, and I still think the Astros are probably a few years away yet from being considered serious contenders for a World Series title,”
A month ago, Berkman seemed all but sure he was going to retire at the conclusion of this season and perhaps he still will. The frustration of having a season cut short by injuries is one that often leads older players to openly consider hanging up the spikes.
Looking at his numbers over the past couple of season, Berkman can certainly still produce when healthy. In 2011, he surprised the baseball world by playing almost exclusively in the outfield, while turning in a 31-homer, 94-RBI season for the eventual World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. Though he’s been limited to a mere 31 games in 2012, Berkman has still compiled a very solid .835 OPS.
Though he has built up some goodwill in St. Louis, Berkman will be 37 before next season begins and seems probably best-suited for DH duties going forward. The Cardinals seem comfortable with Allen Craig at first base, so there is no longer an obvious fit for Berkman there. If he wants to play beyond this season, he’s probably looking at a one year contract and for probably somewhere in the $5-8 million range. From the sounds of it, however, if he does want to play next year, it won’t be with Houston.
I could see him landing with the Rangers, especially if Josh Hamilton were to leave via free agency. Otherwise, there aren’t a lot of probable contenders with a need for a full-time DH.