- Full Count - http://fullcount.weei.com -

Lance Berkman discusses what he wants from a contract

Free agent first baseman Lance Berkman [1] talked with the Houston Chronicle about the interest he’s received this offseason — the 36-year-old said that the Red Sox [2] 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.

‘€œI’€™m waiting to be blown away by an offer,’€ Berkman told the Chronicle. ‘€œIf I’€™m not, I’€™ll be out here [at Rice].

‘€œIf 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 [3]) 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 [4] 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: