Free agent first baseman/outfielder Lance Berkman had drawn some mild interest from the Baltimore Orioles late last week, however that’s now a moot point as Berkman signed yesterday with the Texas Rangers. Let me be frank; I think that Berkman would have been a good addition for the Orioles. While he was injured and only played in 32 games last year, he’s a career .296 hitter with a OBP of .409. (He only hit .259 last year, but again that was over only 32 games.) In his last full season (2011), he batted .301 and hit 31 homers. He’s also a veteran that would have played well in the clubhouse.
Berkman signed a one-year deal with Texas for $11 million of guaranteed money, and a vesting option for 2014. (There’s also a buyout of $1 million.) As I said I do think that Berkman would have been a good signing for the Orioles, however fans shouldn’t lose too much sleep over the fact that he’s off the board. Berkman lives in Houston, TX, and reportedly wanted to stay close to home. That put the Orioles at a disadvantage from the beginning. I do find it interesting that MLB Trade Rumors reported yesterday that the New York Yankees were supposedly interested in Berkman as well, and suddenly a deal for a substantial amount of money suddenly got done. I suppose that once the Yankees (or Red Sox) get involved the stakes go up significantly.
The Orioles are also reportedly (again according to MLB Trade Rumors) interested in Arizona outfielder/DH Jason Kubel. I’m not exactly sure why the O’s would need another outfielder, especially given that Showalter’s vision has always been to rotate the DH slot around with various guys. However I suspect that Duquette is trying to pull off another deal somewhere else which might leave him needing another outfielder. Arizona is apparently asking for pitching in return for Kubel, and the Orioles aren’t really looking to give up anything of substance for him. He’s a career .268 hitter, which isn’t really what the Orioles are looking for per se. His contract is also up after the season, and it’s doubtful that the Orioles are going to look to give up solid pitching in exchange for what could be a one-year rental.