|Possible Destinations for Lance Berkman|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on June 02, 2010
While Astros Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt have asked for trades out of Houston, it's no sure thing that the Astros will honor those requests.Â After all, the Astros don't have a lot of star power and are already struggling at the gate due to their rather poor play.Â Trading away either Oswalt or Berkman would just make that worse.
And it is prospects that the Astros really need.Â Their farm system can't quite be described as barren, but it isn't far from the truth either.Â Â They don't have a lot of other trade chips either except perhaps for closer Matt Lindstrom, or they want to trade away a young inexpensive talent like Hunter Pence, which wouldn't make a lot of sense for a team that needs to rebuild.
Yet what can they hope to get for Oswalt or Berkman?Â That probably depends on a lot of things, perhaps the most important one being just how much of salary owed to those players the team would be willing to eat.Â The next issue would be just who they can trade either of them to; suitors might well be limited and both players have the right to refuse any trade.
Money is an issue for a lot of teams right now including several who might be otherwise be interested in one player or the other.Â But let's tackle this one player at a time in trying to figure out just who the likely suitors are.
Berkman has to be of interest to quite a few offensively challenged teams.Â He'd be a good fit in San Francisco or San Diego provided either team believe they really have a chance to win the division.Â Both teams have deep farm systems and young players who the Astros would love to have, but both teams are in rebuilding modes and have been focusing on developing their own young talent.Â Either team would be gambling so far as their long term plans go, even if the price was cheap enough.
That's because for the Padres it would mean not just taking on Berkman, but not parting with Adrian Gonzalez and accepting the fact they would only get draft picks as compensation when he left for free agency at the end of the season.Â That could be far too bitter a pill for the budget-conscious Padres and would be a risky play for new GM Jed Hoyer.
For the Giants, it would not just be about the money, but about possibly forcing them to push uberprospect Buster Posey back to the minors to give him more playing time, or making an already crowded outfield situation far more crowded.Â Still I could see them in the mix if the Astros were willing to take a middle level prospect or two, AND eat some of Berkman's salary.
In the NL East, there are plenty of teams who wouldn't mind adding a power bat, but realistically the cost would probably be far too high.Â The Mets are probably out of the running for financial reasons, and the Braves are likely to be far more interested in Gonzalez or Prince Fielder either of whom could be a cornerstone in the rising fortunes of that franchise.Â The Marlins have a top prospect already on the horizon so wouldn't have a ton of interest.
That leaves the Nationals.Â For the Nats it's all about where they believe themselves to be in regards to this playoff race.Â Berkman would add a credible bat to the team and help boost its offensive production, but making a play for a playoff spot and committing by trading away young prospects from a club that is itself rebuilding would be a huge gamble.Â Still they could afford to take on the whole salary if they didn't have to offer much in return.
In the American League there are a number of potential suitors.Â Perhaps the most interesting of might well be the already overextended Tampa Bay Rays.Â This might be the year that the Rays just decide that they have to go for it despite the costs, and those costs would include losing Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena to free agency at the end of the season.Â Berkman would be a significant improvement at the DH position compared to either Hank Blalock or Willy Aybar.Â It might even allow them to trade Pena without seriously jeopardizing their playoff hopes too much.
Berkman wouldn't be a great fit with any team in the Central, but out west there are a couple of offensively starved teams, namely the A's and Mariners which could certainly find places in their lineups for him.Â But the Mariners are far more likely to be sellers come the trading deadline unless they can turn things around in the next week or two, and are so offensively challenged that a single bat wouldn't be enough to turn them around.
That leaves the A's who are currently neck and neck with Texas despite scoring more runs than only Cleveland, Baltimore and Seattle.Â Adding Berkman would not be a typical Billy Beane type move, but that addition might be enough to make the Athletics the favorites to win the West.
A dark horse team in a Berkman sweepstakes might well be the Angels, who just lost Kendry Morales to a broken leg and could plug Berkman in at first base, right field and DH occasionally.
There may well be some other teams in this mix, but at the moment you'd think these teams are the ones where Berkman would fit in the best.
Friday, I'll take you on a tour of possible destinations for Roy Oswalt.