Astros general manager Ed Wade informed the agent for Lance Berkman that the club is not open to a reunion with their former slugger this offseason, according to Mark Berkman of FOX 26 in Houston.
“I heard from Mike Moye and he inquired about whether we had interest in bringing Lance back and I was candid with him and told him it didn’t fit for us,” Wade said. “As much as we love and respect Lance and what he’s done for our organization, We had these internal conversations in July when we made the decision to go ahead and move him.”
It was pretty easy to see this one coming, but the news obviously wasn’t easy for the “Big Puma” to take.
“To be honest I don’t know how I feel,” Berkman said. “I really need some time to digest it.”
Berkman, who turns 35 in February, batted just .248/.368/.413 with 14 home runs, 58 RBI and a 781 OPS in 404 at-bats between the Astros and Yankees this past season. He completely collapsed against left-handed pitching, batting just .171 with one home run and a 571 OPS over 82 at-bats, so he’ll be hard-pressed to find an everyday job this winter. The Yankees declined his $15 million option for 2011 this week, making him a free agent.
The Astros appear set at first base, whether with Carlos Lee or Brett Wallace. The 34-year-old Lee is virtually untradeable because of the $37 million owed to him over the next two seasons, so the Astros may decide to hide his defensive deficiencies at first base. He played 20 games there this season. Wallace, 24, batted just .222/.296/.319 with two homers, 13 RBI and an alarming 50/8 K/BB ratio over his first 144 major league at-bats, so he might not be ready for primetime.
The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.
Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.
The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.
In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.