MLB Free Agency: Lance Berkman to the Red Sox Would Make Sense

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MLB Free Agency: Lance Berkman to the Red Sox Would Make Sense
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In her piece for ESPN.com's Sweet Spot blog, Christina Kahrl makes a compelling case for what the Boston Red Sox need to do this winter to remain contenders in 2013.

In general, the theme of the piece focuses on how the team can be competitive next season while not breaking the bank on any one particular free agent. Instead, she outlines five strategic moves that can be made to bolster the team for relatively short money with flexibility in mind.

The first move, and likely the biggest signing of the winter as suggested by Kahrl, would be for the Red Sox to sign veteran 1B/DH/OF Lance Berkman to a one-year deal to play first base.

Initially, the collective groan of Red Sox Nation could be heard throughout the airwaves in Boston when the team was rumored to be "kicking the tires" on Berkman, as he told the Houston Chronicle.

The last thing Red Sox fans want to see is the team overpay for big names.

However, signing Berkman gives the team a few very important tangibles. First, the acquisition tells opponents that the team is still willing to spend on a slugger that will help to bolster the middle of your lineup.

The added bonus is the fact that he is a switch hitter and could complement David Ortiz nicely.

His power numbers, although diminished over the past couple of years, are still better than what one could expect from a tandem of Mauro Gomez and Jerry Sands. He is only one season removed from hitting 31 home runs in 145 games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011.

Jeff Curry/Getty Images

In addition, his veteran presence will help to mold the ballclub for the future. He is a solid clubhouse guy who can be a strong mentor to some of the younger talent on the squad.

Statistically, Berkman owns a lifetime .296/.409/.544/.953 batting line with 360 home runs in his 14-year career.

Remarkably, he has only played 31 games in American League East ballparks, offering an extremely small sample size of production.

For example, in his four games at Fenway Park, Berkman owns has four hits in 14 at-bats with a double, two RBI, four base on balls and a .286/.444/.357/.802 batting line.

He has played 12 games in Baltimore where he went 12/43 with three home runs, six RBI and posted a .279/.396/.488/.885 batting line.

The one hitch in signing Berkman is his asking price. As he told the Houston Chronicle, he is waiting to be "blown away" by an offer, or would be content retiring.

One would guess that a one-year deal would have to be made for somewhere between $12-$14 million annually to bring Berkman to Boston.

That said, if the Red Sox were to sign Berkman and the ship, once again, fails to sail into the playoffs, he would be an easy piece to trade away to a contending team come July or August while only costing the Sox money.

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