Thought to be done for the year, Lance Berkman made an appearance as a pinch-hitter in Wednesday’s Cardinals finale and grounded out to end the seventh inning.
Berkman got a big ovation from the St. Louis crowd prior to the at-bat, which was his first since Sept. 7. He won’t be included on the Cardinals’ postseason roster because of his knee problems.
Interviewed after the game, Berkman wouldn’t say which way he was leaning as far as coming back for another year. The free-agent-to-be said early last month that he was considering retiring and going back to Rice University to finish his degree.
Berkman, one of the NL’s best hitters last year, appeared in just 31 games this season because of his bad knee. If tonight’s at-bat was his last, he’ll finish his career with a .296/.409/.544 line, 360 homers and 1,200 RBI.
The Mariners are in the midst of reconstructing their roster, a process which most recently resulted in the trade of first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnación to the Yankees, per a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan. While the teams have yet to publicly confirm the deal, the Mariners are expected to receive pitching prospect Juan Then and will likely eat a significant portion of Encarnación’s salary as well.
Encarnación is a sizable get for the Yankees, who could benefit from the veteran’s power and consistency in their ongoing drive toward the postseason. The 36-year-old infielder missed some time with a bout of lower back tightness, dental issues, and soreness in his left hand, but has still maintained a decent .241/.356/.531 batting line with an AL-best 21 home runs, an .888 OPS, and 1.7 fWAR through his first 289 plate appearances of the year. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Encarnación has another $11-12 million left on his contract in 2019, with a $20 million option for the 2020 season and a $5 million buyout.
Then, 19, was acquired by the Yankees in a three-person trade with the Mariners during the 2017 offseason. The right-hander currently ranks no. 27 in the Yankees’ system and made his last pro ball appearance for New York’s rookie-level affiliate in 2018, pitching to a 2.70 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, and 7.6 SO/9 across 50 innings. It’s not clear if any other players are involved in the trade, though USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes that no other prospects are thought to be included in the package for Encarnación.