The St. Louis Cardinals were always mentioned as a team interested in free agent Lance Berkman, but I never thought that would happen. St. Louis has Albert Pujols at first base and being a National League team eliminates the DH option (unless they’re paying $8 mil for strictly a World Series DH). Berkman did sign a one-year $8 million deal with the Cardinals on Saturday making it a virtual certainty that he will be moved to the outfield.
Berkman has played first base exclusively the past three years. He played right field for 31 games in 2007 and center field for one game. The last time he played the outfield predominatly in a season was 2004, and it was 2003 where he played left field almost exclusively. Jon Heyman says the Cardinals will have Berkman play left field and move Matt Holliday, who has played left field exclusively his entire career, to right field.
Holliday has offered to move to right field which should not be too difficult of a transition, so long as he’s not trying to catch balls with his cup. $8 million is a lot for a guy who only hit .248 with 14 home runs last season, making it an expensive gamble for a team that has a limited payroll. The true value of the contract depends on Berkman’s ability to have a bounceback year; if he knocks in 90 runs and hits 25 homers with his typical .900 OPS, he’ll be worth the money. Hitting in the same lineup with Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday should bring out the best in Berkman.