|Berkman's possible destinations|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on May 06, 2010
It's been apparent that the Astros have needed to blow up their Major League roster for some time now. If your big free agent signings are Brett Myers, Russ Ortiz and an assortment of washed-up arms, there's a larger problem.
It would be an ugly situation if they did, especially considering the weak farm system. The Astros also have two players with basically immovable contracts (Carlos Lee and Brandon Lyon), one player with a big contract that only a limited number of teams could add (Roy Oswalt) and a superstar willing to waive his no-trade clause, according to a report by Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle.
"If it was me and I was running the show here, if we didn't make a great comeback like we did in '05 and be sort of around .500 by the All-Star break, I'd try to trade every veteran I could to reload," [Lance] Berkman said. "That's the quickest way you're going to be able to reload and get it going in the right direction.
"As a player, if they came to me and said, 'Hey, we've got a deal to go to a contender,' I'd take it. Heck, it's only a three- or four-month deal. It's not like I'm signing on for 10 years with another team."
"I would say yeah," Berkman said. "I think it would benefit the organization, and in the end, it would be a benefit for whoever it is - whether it's me, or Roy (Oswalt) or Carlos. I'm not saying we're at the point where they should start pulling the plug on us, but they need to start thinking forward. If this thing keeps going like this, they've gotta do something.
"If you're running a team, you don't want to get caught in baseball purgatory - where you're not really getting young and you're not really (competing). Where you're in this deal where every year you're signing a marginal veteran and you just never get in the mix."
Berkman is in the final year of his contract but has a $15 million club option for next season. He started the season on the disabled list because of knee surgery, but he remains one of the better hitters in the Major Leagues.
Here's a look at a few places he could finish the season.
Houston - The likeliest scenario is that Berkman doesn't go anywhere. Houston has been reluctant to give up in seasons past, so they may keep Berkman, a fan favorite and a good player. He has said he wants to retire with the Astros, but he is their best piece of trade bait, followed closely by Oswalt.
Atlanta - The Braves dug to the bottom of the bargain bin with Troy Glaus this offseason, and they're desperate for offense. However, they don't have much money, and prospect Freddie Freeman should be ready soon. There's a chance Berkman lands here because of the baseball fit but consider it a small chance.
Boston - David Ortiz is providing the Red Sox with nothing at the plate, and Berkman improves them dramatically. He can play first, shifting Kevin Youkilis to third and give Victor Martinez the opportunity to DH. The same can be done with Adrian Beltre in the DH slot. This would be a difficult move because it would effectively bench Ortiz, but the Red Sox have the money to exercise Berkman's 2011 option and sign him to an extension. It's doubtful they keep Ortiz beyond this season for a large amount of money, and Boston does have a strong farm system. This is the likeliest trade destination.
Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, New York Mets, Chicago White Sox - It makes sense for these teams to trade for Berkman, but there are larger reasons why they won't.
The Angels don't really have the money and have a pretty good first baseman already. However, they do need a boost to compete in the winnable AL West.
The same goes for the Mariners.
San Francisco doesn't have the money, but they have a huge need at first and a good farm system.
The Mets have Ike Davis, but if he starts to struggle, general manager Omar Minaya may begin to wonder how many disappointing seasons he can have before being fired.
The White Sox could use a little bit of offense, but Berkman's salary will likely be too much.