Lance Berkman contract is strangely expensive for a guy who almost retired

Jeff Curry

The Texas Rangers paid Lance Berkman for 2013 nearly as much as the St. Louis Cardinals paid him for 2012.

Lance Berkman will be taking a $2 million paycut after accepting a one-year contract with the Texas Rangers on Saturday. That's one way to put it. The other way to put it is that the Rangers will be paying Berkman $10 million a year after he played just 32 games in his age-36 season and talked a lot about retiring. That's just $2 million less than the Cardinals paid him in 2011, after he hit .301/.412/.547 in his age-35 season.

Unlike former teammate Roy Oswalt, it looks like Berkman really was serious both about considering retirement and only coming out of retirement for a great, well-paying DH job close to home. The Rangers, who've lost out on a few younger, more-expensive free agents, needed a hitter, and Berkman, even in his lost 2012 season, hit .259/.381/.444 over a little more than a month of plate appearances.

Berkman was an incredible delight to watch, listen to, and otherwise be around as a Cardinal, so I'm happy he'll be around baseball another season. But I was expecting something closer to $5 million than $10 million. Oddly enough, this one also includes a vesting option if he plays 550 plate appearances, so he might be back for yet another round in 2014. Here's hoping.

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