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Lance Berkman discusses what he wants from a contract

11.20.12 at 9:54 am ET
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Lance Berkman helped the Cardinals win the World Series in 2011. (AP)

Free agent first baseman Lance Berkman talked with the Houston Chronicle about the interest he’s received this offseason — the 36-year-old said that the Red Sox are one of four teams, along with the Astros, Rays and Phillies, to show interest in him — as well as the type of contract that he’d want to receive in order to continue his career rather than retiring. Berkman said that he’s prepared to begin his post-playing career as a volunteer assistant coach at Rice University (his alma mater) if he doesn’t get the right deal.

“I’m waiting to be blown away by an offer,” Berkman told the Chronicle. “If I’m not, I’ll be out here [at Rice].

“If somebody comes in and makes a deal that I can’t refuse, then I have to take it and go forward. That may not happen — and if it doesn’t, I’m fine.”

Berkman suggested that the Astros talked with him about the possibility of being a designated hitter (in a year when Houston is shifting to the American League) and batting third. That being the case, he suggested that he should be paid accordingly. He also said that he would prefer a two-year deal.

Interestingly, given the Sox’ interest in him, the most obvious comp for Berkman likely would be Red Sox DH David Ortiz given the similarities of the two in age (both will be 37 on Opening Day), position (both could be characterized in the first base/DH vein) and career production. Ortiz is a career .285/.380/.547/.928 hitter with 401 homers in parts of 16 seasons; in 14 years, Berkman is a career .296/.409/.544/.953 hitter with 360 homers in 14 years.

However, Berkman comes with somewhat greater risk, given that a pair of knee surgeries limited him to just 32 games and 97 plate appearances in which he hit .259/.381/.444/.826 for the Cardinals in 2012. While Ortiz also missed considerable time, his Achilles injury did not require surgery and isn’t necessarily a chronic condition. And, before suffering the injury in 2012, Ortiz played 90 games while performing as one of the most productive hitters in the majors, with a .318/.415/.611/1.026 line and 23 homers. The Sox re-signed him to a two-year, $26 million deal with playing time incentives that could push the deal to $30 million.

Here’s a video taken by the Chronicle of Berkman’s remarks:

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