UPDATE: Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Berkman will need to get 525-550 at-bats for the 2014 option to vest. He hasn’t had that many at-bats in a season since 2008.
3:56 PM: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that Berkman will get a $10 million salary for 2013 while the vesting option includes a $1 million buyout.
3:42 PM: Multiple reports state that the deal is done, pending a physical. Rosenthal confirms that Berkman will get a one-year, $11 million deal with a vesting option for 2014. The Rangers will obviously look great if this works out, but they are taking on an awful lot of risk here.
3:22 PM: Rosenthal adds that Berkman’s deal with the Rangers is worth $10-11 million for one year. Given his age and knee issues, that seems a little rich.
2:28 PM: Nolan Ryan’s recruiting efforts have paid off.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rangers are finalizing an agreement with Lance Berkman. It’s expected to be a one-year deal with a possible vesting option. No word yet on the money involved.
Berkman was limited to just 32 games with the Cardinals last season due to knee and calf injuries, but he’s holding off on retirement for at least one more year. He also drew interest from his hometown Astros this winter, but he’ll obviously be in a better position to win with Texas.
While Berkman has previously referred to the American League-style of play as “Mickey Mouse,” he’ll likely serve as the Rangers’ primary designated hitter in 2013. The veteran slugger turns 37 in February and owns a .296/.409/.544 batting line over 14 seasons in the majors.
The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.
Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.
Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.
James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.
The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.