Lance Berkman drawing interest from A’s and Cubs

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Lance Berkman struggled for the Yankees after coming over in a July 31 trade and finished the season with an OPS below .800 for the first time in his career, but it sounds like the 34-year-old first baseman is getting plenty of interest as a free agent.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com calls the A’s “his most fervent suitor” and Carrie Muskat of MLB.com writes that “the Cubs are in pursuit of a first baseman this offseason and one option could be Berkman.”

Berkman has said previously that he’d like to remain a first baseman, but Daric Barton’s presence means he’d been primarily a designated hitter in Oakland. With the Cubs he could play first base and return to the National League, but it’s unclear exactly how interested they are in Berkman.

Even in a career-worst season Berkman got on base at a strong .368 clip and if his power returns somewhat a year removed from knee surgery he could be a nice one-year pickup.

Skaggs Case: Federal Agents have interviewed at least six current or former Angels players

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The Los Angeles Times reports that federal agents have interviewed at least six current and former Angels players as part of their investigation into the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

Among the players questioned: Andrew Heaney, Noé Ramirez, Trevor Cahill, and Matt Harvey. An industry source tells NBC Sports that the interviews by federal agents are part of simultaneous investigations into Skaggs’ death by United States Attorneys in both Texas and California.

There has been no suggestion that the players are under criminal scrutiny or are suspected of using opioids. Rather, they are witnesses to the ongoing investigation and their statements have been sought to shed light on drug use by Skaggs and the procurement of illegal drugs by him and others in and around the club.

Skaggs asphyxiated while under the influence of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his Texas hotel room on July 1. This past weekend, ESPN reported that Eric Kay, the Los Angeles Angels’ Director of Communications, knew that Skaggs was an Oxycontin addict, is an addict himself, and purchased opioids for Skaggs and used them with him on multiple occasions. Kay has told DEA agents that, apart from Skaggs, at least five other Angels players are opioid users and that other Angels officials knew of Skaggs’ use. The Angels have denied Kay’s allegations.

In some ways this all resembles what happened in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, when multiple players were interviewed and subsequently called as witnesses in prosecutions that came to be known as the Pittsburgh Drug Trials. There, no baseball players were charged with crimes in connection with what was found to be a cocaine epidemic inside Major League clubhouses, but their presence as witnesses caused the prosecutions to be national news for weeks and months on end.