Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is reporting that the Texas Rangers will sign free agent Lance Berkman to a one-year deal, which may include a vesting option. Berkman had been leaning toward retirement, but this deal signals an apparent change of heart.
The Rangers have been in the market for a bat all offseason. The addition of Berkman should help fill that void and give manager Ron Washington plenty of options with his lineup.
Berkman is coming off an injury-plagued season that saw him play in just 32 games for the Cardinals. His first DL stint was due to a calf injury in May. He returned in July, but went out again with a torn meniscus that required surgery. Berkman would undergo a second meniscus surgery after re-injuring himself in September.
In 2011 he showed that he still had the potential to be an impact bat, hitting 31 home runs and driving in 94 runs while batting in the middle of the Cardinals order. He also hit .301 and had an on-base percentage of .412.
For Texas, Berkman is likely to hit in the designated hitter spot, and may occasionally play first base. Berkman is a switch hitter, and could enter into a right-handed platoon with Mitch Moreland as the Rangers will also be looking to squeeze Mike Olt's bat into the lineup.
Berkman will be 37 years old on opening day. If he remains healthy, he could provide the Rangers some of the offense they have been in search of all offseason after losing Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young.
The addition of Berkman gives the Rangers a potential middle-of-the-order hitter to bat with Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre. I could very easily see Berkman batting cleanup, breaking up the two right-handed hitters, or used as protection in the five-hole.