Michael Moye, agent for free agent slugger Lance Berkman, said his client is leaning toward retirement according to Travis Sawchik of Pittsburgh-Tribune Review. The Pirates did reach out to him in recent weeks about possibly joining the club.
Debating retirement is nothing new for Berkman. Not only was he reportedly leaning towards hanging up his cleats last year, but he was also said to be considering walking away and forfeiting the remainder of his contract while injured this past July. He decided to continue playing because the Rangers needed help offensively.
Berkman, 37, missed about two months with left hip inflammation in 2013. Knee problems (including five separate surgeries) have hampered him for years and relegate him to first base or DH only at this point of his career. Obviously the Pirates can not offer him time at DH.
In 73 games for Texas this summer, Berkman hit .242/.340/.359 (91 OPS+) with six home runs in 294 plate appearances. He has been limited to only 105 games during the past two years due to hip and knee problems. Berkman was an MVP candidate as recently as 2011, when he put up a .301/.412/.547 (164 OPS+) with 31 homers for the World Champion Cardinals.
Whenever he retires, Berkman will be an interesting Hall of Fame candidate. He's a career .293/.406/.537 (144 OPS+) hitter with 366 career home runs, and during his peak with the Astros from 2001-06, he hit .306/.422/.572 (153 OPS+) with an average of 33 homers per year. Berkman certainly isn't a slam dunk Hall of Famer, but he has a decent case and should stick on the ballot for more than a year.