Getting Berkman worth the risk for Rangers

Lance Berkman isn’t exactly the name that was on top of the wish list for Texas Rangers fans this offseason.

It’s possible that Berkman wasn’t even on the list at all.

But Berkman, who reached an agreement on a one-year deal with Texas Saturday that will pay him at $11 million for 2013 and includes a vesting option for next year, fills a need, gives the Rangers flexibility and buys them time if they feel it’s needed to groom prospects.

It’s doubtful Berkman, 36, can have the kind of season he had two years ago with St. Louis when he was an All-Star. Two surgeries on his right knee in 2012 and a calf injury may have taken care of that. But Berkman isn’t going to be asked to do the same things with the Rangers he did with the Cardinals in 2011, when he hit .301 with 31 homers and 94 RBIs.

All the switch-hitting Berkman has to do is give the Rangers some pop from the designated hitter spot and occasionally spell someone at first base. He sounds like he’s fine with that.

“I think that’s going to be really good for me from a physical standpoint in terms of staying healthy for a full year and obviously geography – I’m a Texas guy all the way — so I could get back to my home state, and being close to home is huge for me and my family,” Berkman told MLB.com. “I think the Rangers have an excellent chance to win. I think they have a very solid team, so all those things kind of add up and it makes a lot of sense.”

Who Berkman spells at first base remains to be seen and that could benefit the Rangers.

Getting Berkman gives Texas options with Jurickson Profar, Ian Kinsler, Mike Olt and Mitch Moreland.

With Berkman at designated hitter, there’s no need for either Olt or Moreland to get many at bats at designated hitter. If that’s the case, that could signal the end of the Kinsler to first base move, which has gained steam through the offseason.

If Texas wants to keep Kinsler at second base and give Profar more time to develop, then then can do so. But if Profar is going to be the second baseman for the Rangers in 2012, then that could mean the end for Moreland and more time in the minors for Olt.

But those scenarios only come into play if Berkman is healthy and producing, and there are no guarantees there. His 2011 season with St. Louis came after he struggled in 2010 and he’ll be two years removed from his strong season with the Cards.

His limited sample size with St. Louis in 2012 wasn’t promising as his OPS was more than 125 points lower than his 2011 numbers, but the injuries had to have been a factor there.

Berkman’s worth the risk, much like A.J. Pierzynski was.

The Rangers don’t have money tied up in either past this season and if either of them hit like the Rangers hope the can, then they can help offset the losses of Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli.

If not, the Rangers can push forward with a youth movement led by Profar and Olt. That’s not a bad thing either.