It is no secret by now that the Chicago Cubs are in need of a first baseman, and they appear ready to wait for the right option to fall into their lap. While, the overall consensus is that the Cubs are one of the leaders to trade for Adrian Gonzalez, the expectation is that the Padres will hold onto Gonzalez for the start of the regular season. The Cubs also appear poised to trade for Rangers 1B Chris Davis at some point, however, that would not exclude the Cubs from signing another left handed 1B.
Among free agent first basemen that the Cubs are interested in are Carlos Pena, Adam LaRoche, and the new addition to the rumor mill in Lance Berkman. Berkman spoke to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, and said the Cubs are one of eight teams that are expressing interest in him.
"The A’s have been the “most aggressive” in terms of contact, he says, and the Cubs have checked in, informing him of their opening at first base. The Rockies also have shown interest, according to a major-league source. FOX SPORTS"
Despite Berkman claiming that the Athletics have been the most aggressive team after him, there is a strong chance that the Cubs are on top of his list of desired teams. The first reason being that Berkman wants to be in the National League, where he can play First Base or in the Outfield. The other reason being that Berkman already has a sense of familiarity with the National League Central, considering that before being traded to the Yankees in July, he spent his past 12 seasons with the Houston Astros.
Berkman’s numbers were down from his career averages in 2010, as he hit .248/.368/.413 with 14 home runs and 58 RBI’s. At 34, I do not see his poor 2010 season being a sign of declining production. Like Berkman mentioned, I think the knee surgery that he had last off-season was a big reason why he struggled last year. As before last year, Berkman had a run of 9 seasons with around 25+ home runs and at least 90 RBI’s in each. On defense, Berkman is considered to be an average fielder at First Base, which will not hurt his chances of landing with the Cubs.
Adrian Gonzalez not included, Lance Berkman may be the best option for a short term fill-in. Berkman said it himself that he is not looking for a big contract, just a contract that will allow him to “bounce back and re-establish himself”. Meaning he will likely come cheaper than Carlos Pena, who is among the top of the list for Cubs free agent targets.While, Pena may be the better defender, Berkman is the better hitter. Plus, Berkman is an average to above average fielder. Meaning, the Cubs would get more value out of Berkman than they would out of Pena.
It is still going to be a slow and methodical approach for the Cubs when it comes to signing or trading for their next first baseman, so, Berkman only adds to a list that already includes Chris Davis, Adrian Gonzalez, Carlos Pena, Adam LaRoche, and Lyle Overbay.