Lance Berkman leaning toward retirement after the season

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Lance Berkman began a minor league rehab assignment last night with Triple-A Memphis and went 0-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. He’s expected to play in four more rehab games before rejoining the Cardinals in a limited role down the stretch, but he could be reaching the end of his career.

According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Berkman acknowledged last night that he’s leaning toward retirement after this season.

“I don’t want to rule anything out. But if you asked me right now I’m leaning toward not playing next year,” Berkman said. “I don’t want to say for certain because I don’t want to do like Brett Favre and say, ‘I retired; I’m not retired; I’m retired; I’m not retired.’ I don’t want to make that call right now, but if you put a gun to my head and demand an answer today I would tell you I’m probably not going to play next year.”

And it would be tough to blame him if he does decide to hang it up. Berkman has had five knee surgeries in his career, the most recent of which was on his right knee in May. The 36-year-old is currently on the disabled list due to inflammation in the very same knee, but he was recently diagnosed with meniscus damage in his left knee. He’s just not sure whether it’s worth putting his body through it all for another year.

Berkman, a six-time All-Star, is a .296/.409/.545 hitter over 14 major league seasons. He has 1,842 career hits and 360 home runs.

Padres may have more interest in Dallas Keuchel than Bryce Harper

Dallas Keuchel
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An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.

As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.

While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.