Lance Berkman said late last month that he’s leaning towards retirement because of his knee problems. In an interview with FOX 26 on Thursday, he elaborated on that possibility, saying that if he does retire, he plans to return to Rice University to get his degree and serve as a student assistant for the baseball team.
Berkman has already reached out to Owls baseball coach Wayne Graham about the possibility:
“We make our home in Houston,” Berkman said. “I went to Rice. The program did a lot of for me. I would love to do something for the program.
All of those things make it sort of a no-brainer on my end. I’m just happy Coach Graham feels like that I would be enough of an asset to come in and try to help that team win. And really in a lot of ways it’s more exciting that trying to continue my own baseball career.”
Berkman is just 36 and he was one of the National League’s best players a year ago, so it’d be a shame to see him go so soon. However, he doesn’t appear interested in serving as a DH in the American League and he’s not sure he wants to put his body through another year as an NL regular. He’s played in just 30 games this season and hit .263 with two homers in 80 at-bats.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.