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Pirates rumors: Bucs inquired about Lance Berkman

Mike Stobe

The Pirates inquired about free agent first baseman Lance Berkman, but he seems likely to retire, Travis Sawchik reports.

This is a little odd -- Berkman will be 38 in February, and he didn't hit much in 2013. He's hit very well from the left side for his career, so even though he's a switch-hitter, he might be a decent platoon candidate. But that's assumes his offense will return. He used to be a great fastball hitter, but he isn't anymore, and that's probably not coming back. Berkman is also a below-average first baseman, and he hasn't played the outfield since 2011. He's had knee and hip injuries in recent years that may have affected his performance, but at his age, it's likely that his injury troubles will continue.

There might have been some upside to the idea of signing Berkman in that he was a world-class hitter in his prime, and the Pirates might have wanted to make a cheap gamble on a player that the free agent market forgot, hoping he'd stay healthy and put up one more huge season. The A's tried something like that with Frank Thomas in 2006, and got good results. But Berkman looks like a big hail-mary at this point.

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