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.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.