Astros reject Lance Berkman’s attempt to return to Houston

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Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle writes that Lance Berkman “believed he would return to the Astros in 2011 … from the moment he was traded to the Yankees last July.” However, when his agent approached general manager Ed Wade about potentially returning to Houston he was told “thanks, but no thanks.”

“It wasn’t a long conversation,” Berkman told Justice. “After initially being pretty disappointed, I’ve gotten over it. Now my focus is on who is going to contend that wants me to play for them.”

Most players let their agent do the dirty work when it comes to talking publicly about the offers they’re receiving on the open market, but Berkman cut out the middle man and told Justice that he’s had interest from the Cardinals, Cubs, Rockies, A’s, Pirates, and Blue Jays. However, according to Berkman most teams are merely in the “tire-kicking” stage right now and he’s yet to receive any concrete offers “in terms of X amount of dollars.”

Berkman is 35 years old and coming off the worst season of his career, struggling for the Yankees following a mid-season trade and finishing with a sub-.800 OPS for the first time, but he maintained good on-base skills and could resume being a very dangerous hitter if his power returns even a little bit.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.