Looking to bag their first free agent of the offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates reportedly turned their attention to a man who was formerly one of baseball’s most dominant hitters.
According to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Pirates reached out to Lance Berkman but were told by his agent that Berkman is leaning toward retirement.
Pirates made a call on Lance Berkman but agent says he’s leaning toward retirement
— Travis Sawchik (@Sawchik_Trib) November 21, 2013
That’s probably a blessing for the Bucs in the long run.
For one, Berkman is 37 and on the downside of his career despite having a big 2011 season in St. Louis.
He appeared in only 73 games for the Rangers this season, putting up a .242/.340/.359 slash line after inking a $10 million deal with the Texas Rangers last year, which represented a big drop off from his 2011 campaign.
Berkman was once again slowed by injuries once again this year, ranging from hip inflammation to pain in the same surgically-repaired right knee that cost him the majority of his 2012 season.
It was just two years ago that Berkman put up a slash line of .301/.412/.547 with 31 homers and owns a career line of .293/.406/.537 with 366 home runs.
Needing a first baseman, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington likely looked at Berkman as a potential buy-low guy that could produce high rewards with a bounce-back season.
But given his age and injury history, it likely is a good thing for the Pirates that Berkman may be calling it quits.
They should look to fill the hole at first base elsewhere.