Lance Berkman has been contacted by the Red Sox, Rays, Phillies and Astros

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For someone who has been talking about retirement, Lance Berkman is a pretty popular guy.

Berkman told Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle today that he has been contacted by the Red Sox, Rays, Phillies and Astros, though nothing has advanced beyond “tire-kicking mode.” He’s “waiting to be blown away by an offer,” otherwise he’ll attend to his volunteer assistant coach job at Rice University.

Berkman met with Astros owner Jim Crane last week and said that new manager Bo Porter indicated that he would likely bat third and serve as the DH if he joins the club. The 36-year-old wouldn’t say what it would take for him to return to the Astros, but he wants to be compensated commensurate to where he’ll hit in the lineup.

“If I’m going to hit third for a major-league team, then obviously there’s a compensation level that accompanies that,” Berkman said. “It’s just a matter whether the Astros would be willing to pay that or not. If they are not, no hard feelings. I just feel like if you are going to do a job you deserve to be paid somewhere in the ballpark where the job description entails.”

The Astros are the sentimental favorite here and they’ll need a DH for their first season in the American League, but the other three options would give him a much better chance to win. However, after all his knee problems this year, it sounds like he’d be fine walking away from the game if he doesn’t find the right offer in the right situation.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.