The Texas Rangers, closing in on a new designated hitter, have reached agreement with free agent Lance Berkman, according to major-league sources.
The contract is expected to be for one year at $11 million and includes a vesting option for 2014, sources said.
Berkman, 36, will need to pass a physical for the deal to become official. He injured his left calf and underwent two surgeries on his right knee last season, appearing in only 32 games for the St. Louis Cardinals.
The season before, he played in 145 games, his most since 2008. He hit .301 with 31 homers, 94 RBIs and a .959 OPS, and helped the Cardinals win the World Series.
Berkman would be a second significant addition to the Rangers’ offense, joining free-agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Texas also is in discussions with the Arizona Diamondbacks about a trade for outfielder Justin Upton, sources said.
Earlier this off-season, the Rangers lost free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton to the Los Angeles Angels, traded third baseman Michael Young to the Philadelphia Phillies and braced for the loss of free-agent catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli.
Napoli reached an agreement with the Boston Red Sox on Dec. 3, but the deal still is not official. A physical examination revealed a problem with one of his hips, sources said, and the two sides have yet to find common ground on that issue.
The signing of Berkman would diminish and possibly eliminate any chance of Napoli returning to the Rangers on even a one-year deal.
Berkman has said he wants to spend more time with his family, and that he is intrigued by the chance to become a voluntary assistant coach at Rice, his alma mater.
But in a recent interview with MLB Network, he acknowledged that money will be a consideration in his decision, and that a team effectively could buy him out of his retirement.
“Well, I think so,” said Berkman, who earned $12 million with the Cardinals last season. “It’s awfully hard to make the kind of money that we’re able to make doing anything else, and I think I certainly have a realization and appreciation for that. So, if it comes down to it, there are definitely amounts of money that you just can’t turn down.
“That is a scenario that could happen, although I don’t see that as being extremely likely given the fact that I didn’t play hardly at all last year. I’m sure a lot of teams would have a question about if I could hold up over 162 games and things like that, so there’s some factors there that I think are going to limit the offers that I get from some of these teams.”