Lance Berkman struggled for the Yankees after coming over in a July 31 trade and finished the season with an OPS below .800 for the first time in his career, but it sounds like the 34-year-old first baseman is getting plenty of interest as a free agent.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com calls the A’s “his most fervent suitor” and Carrie Muskat of MLB.com writes that “the Cubs are in pursuit of a first baseman this offseason and one option could be Berkman.”
Berkman has said previously that he’d like to remain a first baseman, but Daric Barton’s presence means he’d been primarily a designated hitter in Oakland. With the Cubs he could play first base and return to the National League, but it’s unclear exactly how interested they are in Berkman.
Even in a career-worst season Berkman got on base at a strong .368 clip and if his power returns somewhat a year removed from knee surgery he could be a nice one-year pickup.
Per ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Jake Arrieta‘s agent Scott Boras says they’ll discuss a potential contract extension with the Cubs when they meet in January to hammer out arbitration figures.
Arrieta, 30, is entering his third and final year of arbitration eligibility after earning $10.7 million in 2016. The right-hander followed up his Cy Young Award-winning 2015 campaign by going 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA and a 190/76 K/BB ratio in 197 1/3 innings during the regular season. Arrieta pitched well in the postseason, helping the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908.
While Boras clients tend to go to free agency, it’s not always the case. Stephen Strasburg inked a seven-year, $175 million extension with the Nationals earlier this year.
Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports, citing a source as well as Nikkan Sports, that reliever Koji Uehara is close to signing a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Cubs.
Uehara, 41, finished the 2016 season with a 3.45 ERA and a 63/11 K/BB ratio over 47 innings. He missed some time in the second half with a strained right pectoral muscle. When Uehara returned from the disabled list on September 7, he tossed 11 scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts and two walks through the end of the regular season. So there’s at least some evidence, albeit in a very small sample size, that Uehara has stuff left in the tank.
The Cubs recently acquired closer Wade Davis from the Royals. Uehara would join Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards, Jr., Justin Grimm, and Mike Montgomery in what is once again a very deep bullpen.