UPDATE: Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Berkman will need to get 525-550 at-bats for the 2014 option to vest. He hasn’t had that many at-bats in a season since 2008.
3:56 PM: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that Berkman will get a $10 million salary for 2013 while the vesting option includes a $1 million buyout.
3:42 PM: Multiple reports state that the deal is done, pending a physical. Rosenthal confirms that Berkman will get a one-year, $11 million deal with a vesting option for 2014. The Rangers will obviously look great if this works out, but they are taking on an awful lot of risk here.
3:22 PM: Rosenthal adds that Berkman’s deal with the Rangers is worth $10-11 million for one year. Given his age and knee issues, that seems a little rich.
2:28 PM: Nolan Ryan’s recruiting efforts have paid off.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rangers are finalizing an agreement with Lance Berkman. It’s expected to be a one-year deal with a possible vesting option. No word yet on the money involved.
Berkman was limited to just 32 games with the Cardinals last season due to knee and calf injuries, but he’s holding off on retirement for at least one more year. He also drew interest from his hometown Astros this winter, but he’ll obviously be in a better position to win with Texas.
While Berkman has previously referred to the American League-style of play as “Mickey Mouse,” he’ll likely serve as the Rangers’ primary designated hitter in 2013. The veteran slugger turns 37 in February and owns a .296/.409/.544 batting line over 14 seasons in the majors.
Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.
Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.
Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.
Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hit another jaw-dropping home run, victimizing Mets starter Robert Gsellman in the top of the fourth game of Wednesday night’s game at Citi Field. Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes didn’t even move. The ball traveled 457 feet and was hit 117 MPH off the bat, according to Katie Sharp of River Ave Blues.
The home run moved Judge’s AL-best total to 37, putting him two ahead of the Royals’ Mike Moustakas. Along with the prodigious dinger total, he has 80 RBI, 90 runs scored, and a .291/.421/.616 triple-slash line in 499 plate appearances. Judge is on pace for 50 dingers. If it holds, that would give him the rookie record for home runs in a season. Mark McGwire currently holds the record, having hit 49 for the Athletics in 1987.