Cards approached Lance Berkman in July about extension

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The Cardinals drew phone calls from at least one contending team earlier this week when right fielder Lance Berkman passed through waivers unclaimed and became eligible to be traded to any major league club. But Berkman hasn’t been dealt, and won’t be dealt, because the Redbirds are hoping to make him part of their plans for 2012 and beyond.

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle told a St. Louis radio program on Wednesday morning that the Cardinals approached Berkman about a contract extension in July and that the 35-year-old slugger “very much wants to stay” in the Gateway City.

Berkman probably wants to head to free agency this winter to see what kind of money other teams are offering. But he’s found a kind of comfort zone in St. Louis and the Cardinals should have a spot for him next season — either in right field or at first base, depending on the end result of Albert Pujols’ own free agency.

Berkman, currently playing out a one-year, $8 million deal, has batted .286/.402/.565 with 30 home runs and 81 RBI across 478 plate appearances this season for second-place St. Louis. He hasn’t spent a single day on the disabled list and was named a National League All-Star for the sixth time back in July.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.