It sounds like the Pittsburgh Pirates are exploring just about every possibility at first base so far in the offseason. According to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Pirates made a call to gauge Lance Berkman‘s interested in joining them, but the veteran is apparently leaning toward retirement.
This should come as good news for Pirates fans as Berkman isn’t a great option to play first base for the Bucs in 2014. At 38 years old, Berkman is clearly past his prime. In 2013 with the Texas Rangers, Berkman played in just 73 games and received 294 plate appearances. He hit for a .242/.340/.359 with a 90 wRC+. Like most hitters, Berkman hasn’t lost his plate vision with his age. The 38 year old has walked in 15.4 percent of his plate appearances throughout his career. In 2013, he walked in 12.9 percent of his plate appearances.
Berkman has never been a great defensive option. At his age, his glove is probably worse than it has ever been. Durability is also a major concern; Berkman hasn’t played more than 145 games since 2009. In recent seasons he has had issues with his hips and knees that have caused him to miss a lot of time. If he wished to continue his playing career he would be best suited at designated hitter at this point.
If Berkman does decide to retire it will be the end of a great career for the former Houston Astros, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals and Rangers slugger. In 7,814 career plate appearances, Berkman has hit for a .293/.406/.537 slash line with 366 home runs and a 144 wRC+. While he had a few good seasons with the Cards and Rangers, he will always be remembered as one of the greatest Astros players of all-time.