It’s not a return to the Houston Astros, but for Lance Berkman, this might be the next best thing. The deal is not official yet, but multiple sources have indicated the Rangers have taken the switch-hitting slugger off the market for a one-year deal worth $10 with a vesting option for 2014. Berkman, who will be 37 before the season starts, enjoyed a hugely successful comeback season in 2011 with the Cardinals before dealing with repeated knee issues a year ago that limited him to just 32 games.
This is a bold move for Texas, as guaranteeing Berkman $10 million at this point is a little on the risky side. Being able to DH will certainly help matters, but there’s no way to know for sure if Berkman’s knee has any chance of holding up over a whole season anymore. Obviously, the Ranger front office will make sure they’re confident in his medical status before making the deal official, but it still seems like this might have been a better deal with incentives included.
On the other side, Berkman can still hit, which he proved with a .959 OPS in 2011, and even the hobbled impostor who took his at-bats last season managed to hit a more than respectable .259/.381/.444. If keeping Berkman off the field defensively gives his knee sufficient off-time, there will be plenty of players more likely not to earn their contract than the long-time Houston Astro.