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Rangers and Lance Berkman agree to one-year, $11 million contract

Jan 5, 2013, 4:31 PM EDT

Lance Berkman Getty

UPDATE: Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Berkman will need to get 525-550 at-bats for the 2014 option to vest. He hasn’t had that many at-bats in a season since 2008.

3:56 PM: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that Berkman will get a $10 million salary for 2013 while the vesting option includes a $1 million buyout.

3:42 PM: Multiple reports state that the deal is done, pending a physical. Rosenthal confirms that Berkman will get a one-year, $11 million deal with a vesting option for 2014. The Rangers will obviously look great if this works out, but they are taking on an awful lot of risk here.

3:22 PM: Rosenthal adds that Berkman’s deal with the Rangers is worth $10-11 million for one year. Given his age and knee issues, that seems a little rich.

2:28 PM: Nolan Ryan’s recruiting efforts have paid off.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rangers are finalizing an agreement with Lance Berkman. It’s expected to be a one-year deal with a possible vesting option. No word yet on the money involved.

Berkman was limited to just 32 games with the Cardinals last season due to knee and calf injuries, but he’s holding off on retirement for at least one more year. He also drew interest from his hometown Astros this winter, but he’ll obviously be in a better position to win with Texas.

While Berkman has previously referred to the American League-style of play as “Mickey Mouse,” he’ll likely serve as the Rangers’ primary designated hitter in 2013. The veteran slugger turns 37 in February and owns a .296/.409/.544 batting line over 14 seasons in the majors.

  1. uyf1950 - Jan 5, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    From this Yankee fan, thank you Nolan Ryan. I really did NOT want to see Cashman go after after him.

    • proudlycanadian - Jan 5, 2013 at 3:31 PM

      The Rangers do seem to be following the Yankee playbook in that they have now signed 2 ageing players to 1 year contracts.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 5, 2013 at 3:45 PM

        My friend, I’m given to believe from MLBTR report that there is a 2nd year vesting option for Berkman in the deal with the Rangers.

      • proudlycanadian - Jan 5, 2013 at 3:47 PM

        If that is correct, and given the size of the contract, then it appears that the Rangers are actually borrowing elements of the Red Sox playbook.

      • sandpiperair - Jan 5, 2013 at 3:52 PM

        Surprised to see you guys here– this post has nothing to do with the Red Sox.

      • proudlycanadian - Jan 5, 2013 at 3:59 PM

        It has everything to do with competition in the AL. This risky signing may not help the Rangers compete for a World Series berth.

      • quintjs - Jan 5, 2013 at 4:48 PM

        why is it the Red Sox playbook to sign guys to long term big dollar contracts? no other team has ever signed an aging player to a long term contract? no one would ever sign Vernon Wells to a long term deal to watch him to nothing apart from the Red Sox?

      • proudlycanadian - Jan 5, 2013 at 5:09 PM


      • tuberippin - Jan 5, 2013 at 5:59 PM

        “why is it the Red Sox playbook to sign guys to long term big dollar contracts? no other team has ever signed an aging player to a long term contract?”

        1) We’re talking THIS offseason.
        2) It has been the Red Sox playbook THIS OFFSEASON to sign guys to long-term contracts that overpay them vs. the quality of their play (Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, the Napoli deal that’s in limbo, etc.)

  2. proudlycanadian - Jan 5, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    So this is how the Rangers intend to replace the power hitting they lost when Hamilton spurned them!

    • gt929 - Jan 5, 2013 at 4:37 PM

      Aww, looks like you’ve seen right through JD’s complicated strategy.

    • spytdi - Jan 5, 2013 at 6:02 PM

      Berkman replaced Pujols in Cardinal land fairly well after he left for Anaheim. Wait and see is all I can say. It’s a gamble only because of his health. That’s what a physical is for.

      • kirkvanhouten - Jan 5, 2013 at 10:36 PM

        If by “fairly well” you mean “was healthy enough to put up exactly 97 plate appearances”…then yes, he did a wonderful job replacing Pujols.

      • jeffa43 - Jan 6, 2013 at 12:58 PM

        Short memory kids… He replaced an Albert year before last… And they won the Series… Btw … Berkman was only hitter to hit over 400 in the Series win, including the best at bat of the series that tied the game late that was won later that inning.

        Ya I know Albert played in the Series, but Lance was the one with the spotlight on him.

        Nice job Ryan… Again.

        Ps… Astros blow it again!

    • cur68 - Jan 5, 2013 at 9:48 PM

      Phat Elvis in Texas? Like wow, man. Hope he can hold his ailing frame together for the season.

  3. lazlosother - Jan 5, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    The Big Puma can hit. NY fans forget that he wasn’t anything near healthy when he came to the Yanks. This one is a gamble for Texas, but if his legs are OK he should rake in that park.

    • uyf1950 - Jan 5, 2013 at 3:35 PM

      He’ll be 37 in about a month. He hasn’t been healthy in 2 of the last 3 years. I’d say “this one is a gamble for Texas” is an understatement.

      • lazlosother - Jan 5, 2013 at 3:37 PM

        He’ll be a DH for texas. That could help his health.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 5, 2013 at 3:42 PM

        Considering his stated disdain for the American League and the DH I wonder if his attitude won’t be just as much of an issue as his health.

      • gt929 - Jan 5, 2013 at 4:13 PM

        He has to know he’s being signed primarily as a DH due to his above mentioned age and knees. That’s why there were no NL teams interested.

        But if he thinks he can come to ST and beat someone out of a job defensively, let’s see him do it.

  4. uyf1950 - Jan 5, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    WOW, $10 to $11MM for a guy who’s ability to stay healthy for the entire season is suspect at best.

    • Chip Caray's Eyebrows - Jan 5, 2013 at 3:54 PM

      It’s a one-year deal. Plus, it’s not like the Rangers really have to pinch pennies. It might be a bad signing for some teams in some situations, but not here.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 5, 2013 at 4:13 PM

        Actually it’s a 1 year deal with a vesting option for a 2nd year. And considering his age and obvious injury history it has the potential to be a bad signing.

      • paperlions - Jan 5, 2013 at 4:51 PM

        Oh, c’mon. There really aren’t any bad one year deals. If Berkman can’t stay healthy or produce, they can just waive him so they aren’t even wasting a roster spot. This is a far better deal than giving Hamilton $125/5, which will represent a lot more wasted money than the Berman deal if Lance never gets a single AB.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 5, 2013 at 5:43 PM

        paperlions, FYI “Berkman”

    • gt929 - Jan 5, 2013 at 4:09 PM

      Heya UYF! That’s only about 1/3 the price of ARod.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 5, 2013 at 4:16 PM

        True, but the Yankees signed A-Rod when he was healthy and A-Rod was one of the main reasons the Yankees won the World Series in 2009. I doubt the Rangers will look back on this signing and award Berkman the same credit.

      • gt929 - Jan 5, 2013 at 4:32 PM

        But what are the Rangers risking? A measly (in MLB money) $11mil, for 1 year? If the option vests, obviously he will have done something to earn it.

      • paperlions - Jan 5, 2013 at 4:57 PM

        He was one of the main reasons the Cardinals won the 2011 WS….when healthy, he’s still a better hitter than Hamilton usually is….people act like Hamilton is usually the guy he was in 2010, but he was only anything like that guy that one year. Otherwise he’s a .350 OBP that slugs about .550 while playing home games in Arlington, which is nice…but not that hard for a player like Berman to replace.

      • thereisaparty - Jan 5, 2013 at 5:24 PM

        Sorry Lions, but Berkman is not a better hitter than Hamilton, when healthy.

        Hamilton wRC+ from ’10-’12: 175, 126, 140
        Berkman wRC+ from ’09-12: 139, 114, 163, N/A

        You have to consider aging curves and regression here. No sensible projection would have Berkman’s offensive production above Hamilton’s.

      • paperlions - Jan 5, 2013 at 6:03 PM

        That 114 for 2010 was on one knee all year, he wasn’t healthy then….no more healthy than when Hamilton put up an 85 wRC+ in 2009

      • kirkvanhouten - Jan 5, 2013 at 10:45 PM

        @ “thereisaparty”

        Well, that was some nifty math, what with excluding Hamilton’s 2009, presumably because he wasn’t healthy and yet having no problem including Berkman’s 2010 and 2012 when was also injured.

        At this juncture in their careers, I agree, Hamilton is almost certain to be better hitter. But if you just take the last four years, Berkman does top him in OPS+ by four points. Hamilton tops Berkman tops him by 7 points in OPS+ if you go by the last three years.

      • joegolfer - Jan 6, 2013 at 3:53 AM

        Yes, there is some nifty math going on here, what with all the stats on wRC+ listed.
        I heard a nice quote while watching college basketball today: “Statistics can be what a lampost is to a drunk: more for support than for illumination”.
        That’s often the case with all these posts that list tons of handpicked stats. One can pick and choose whatever stats one wants to support their point, such as leaving out a year when Hamilton was injured quite a bit but including a year when Berkman was injured.
        Same goes for all the arguments about whether a guy belongs in the Hall of Fame or not. You can’t go simply by statistics or sabremetrics or whatever, as there are intangibles to the game that aren’t measured on paper, and the game is much more than what happens solely in a boxscore or stat book.

    • joegolfer - Jan 6, 2013 at 3:42 AM

      The amount of the contract surprises me too. 10 to 11 million for a guy whose health has been so bad of late. I could see it if it was heavily incentive laden, such that he had to reach milestones in order to get that money, such as have 500+ plate appearances and a certain level of batting avg or slugging percentage or OPS.
      Berkman should feel lucky that anyone wants him anymore at all. An incentive laden contract ought to be something he’d sign out of a sense of being honorable, considering his recent history.

      AJ Pierzynski got 7.5 million, and it seems like he’ll have more impact than “the Big Puma”, especially since Berkman hardly moves like that puma anymore. At least Pierzynski has stayed healthy every year, despite being around the same age as Berkman.

  5. gt929 - Jan 5, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    I thought the Rangers were overpaying for Nathan last year. And that’s just one reason that Jon Daniels is a GM and I am, umm, me.

  6. bat42boy - Jan 5, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    He’s an over-the-hill injury plagued DH. They paid way to much for limited production. Don’t see how that helps them..

  7. Jackson - Jan 5, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    Congrats, Lance. I’ll be sure to get you some Mickey Mouse ears

  8. genericcommenter - Jan 5, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    So if the vesting option is for at-bats ( and not PAs), he will be penalized for getting on base. That makes sense.

  9. genericcommenter - Jan 5, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    I guess the Mule got his Carrot.

  10. sportsnut101 - Jan 5, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    11 mil for him. U got to be kidding. Hope they got insurance

  11. kirkvanhouten - Jan 5, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    Seems like a bit of an overpay, but it worked out pretty well for the last team that signed up to a one year deal after everyone was convinced he was washed up…

    I think this deal mostly revolves around his health. If he can give them 500 PAs, then it will be fine. If not, well…it’s only a one year deal and not a terribly expensive one at that. The Rangers will survive.

  12. historiophiliac - Jan 5, 2013 at 11:06 PM

    I wonder how he and Pierzynski will get along.

  13. materialman80 - Jan 6, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    Thanks for your efforts with the Cards Lance, we will miss you.

  14. stiefert - Jan 6, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    As a Cards fan, I hated him when he was with Houston, loved him while he was here, respect him now that he’s moved on. Thanks for your time here Big Puma and good luck with the Rangers!

  15. stevincinci - Jan 7, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    Reds killer. Glad he’s
    in the American League.

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