UPDATE: Cardinals sign Lance Berkman to one-year contract

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UPDATE: Hoo-boy. According to Jon Heyman of SI.com, Berkman got $8 million from the Cardinals.

This isn’t confirmed, but Heyman also hears that Berkman will play left field while Matt Holliday will be moved to right field. That’s right. The Cardinals are apparently moving their $120 million outfielder to make way for Berkman. By the way, Holliday has never played an inning in right field between the majors and minors. Fun times.

5:27 PM: Here’s a surprising one.

The Cardinals have signed Lance Berkman to a one-year contract, according to the team’s Twitter feed. No word on the exact terms of the deal.

Interestingly, he is described as an outfielder/first baseman in the Tweet by the team, though we can’t see him playing first base that much as long as that Albert Pujols guy has something to say about it.

Berkman is coming off a career-worst season in which he batted .248/.368/.413 with 14 home runs and 58 RBI over 481 plate appearances between the Astros and Yankees. He batted just .171/.261/.256 with one home run, five RBI and a 517 OPS over 82 at-bats against left-handed pitching.

The Athletics were aggressive in their pursuit of Berkman, but he reportedly preferred staying in the National League. A rebound season with the bat isn’t out of the question — and he probably represents an upgrade over what the Cardinals had in right field after the Ryan Ludwick trade, at least offensively — but it’s worth noting that Berkman hasn’t played one inning in the outfield since the 2007 season and hasn’t been a full-time outfielder since 2004. That’s quite a leap of faith to take with someone who turns 35 years old in February and needed knee surgery earlier this year.

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

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Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.