Lance Berkman usually says whatever he’s feeling and he’s one of the most interesting interview subjects in professional sports because of it.
But he probably crossed some sort of line in Rangers camp Tuesday. Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has the story from Surprise, Arizona:
Berkman, who signed a one-year, $11 million deal with the Rangers in the off-season, didn’t miss an opportunity to fire the first shot about the 2011 season.
During the team’s annual meeting before the first full squad workout of spring training, manager Ron Washington spoke about the players in the clubhouse who had been through the “war” of a baseball season.
“He forgot about me and then he was like, ‘Berkman has been through the war too,’” Berkman said. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, we won that war.’”
Berkman’s Cardinals beat the Rangers in a wild seven-game series that featured one of the craziest postseason baseball games in the sport’s history. And the “Big Puma” played a huge part in capturing that championship for St. Louis. But he is with Texas now, and all the Rangers fans I’ve met despise rehashing the 2011 Fall Classic like they’ll probably despise Berkman’s use of “we” when referring to his former team.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.