PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 19: Lance Berkman #12 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a home run in the first inning during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on September 19, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
The St. Louis Cardinals and Lance Berkman agreed to a contract extension, avoiding free agency and netting the veteran slugger $12 million over one year.
The St. Louis Cardinals and Lance Berkman avoided free agency Thursday, agreeing to a one-year contract extension worth $12 million. Berkman, who's had an outstanding season a year after hitting a number of career lows, had suggested for some time that he'd be willing to sign a short-term deal if the money was right; it looks like $12 million is the right kind of money for a fragile pseudo-outfielder who is nevertheless the current National League leader in OPS+.
Berkman's hitting .300/.412/.555 with 31 home runs and 91 RBI a year after hitting just .248 with 14 home runs between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees. He's not been especially solid in the outfield, but he's succeeded in not injuring himself, which was the team's primary concern going into 2011.
With the extension it looks like the Cardinals will spend 2012 as they have much of 2011—scrambling to get Allen Craig at-bats between the outfield, second and third base, and anywhere else Tony La Russa can possibly imagine.