Berkman’s Back: This Isn’t The Holliday Deal

Reason number 41,692 to like Lance Berkman: Leverage.

When the Cardinals signed Matt Holliday to his current 7-year, $120 million deal, they were in a different situation than today. Jason Bay was “the other” big name outfielder in the free agent pool, and Holliday was just coming off a two-month stint with the redbirds. Largely, it’s been assumed that the Cardinals were bidding against themselves when vying for the services of the left fielder, who is represented by none other than Scott Boras.

Compounding the problem was that the Cardinals didn’t really *have* a whole lot of other options for an everyday LF, and certainly didn’t have one capable of instilling fear in opposing pitchers and managers, who would have to ask themselves no fewer than thrice per contest, “Should I pitch to 5, or pitch to 7?”. The organization, while not technically being “forced” into signing Holliday, didn’t have a whole lot of other viable options at the time.

Turn the page to November, 2011, and we see Lance Berkman coming off a great year, his first as a member of the Cardinals. Berkman and the redbirds have reached an agreement, that will bring the slugger back. Number 12 will earn $12MM in 2012 for the Cardinals. But it’s much much more than repeating a number to make a sentence that geeks & number nerds will fawn over. It’s a tremendous bargaining chip for Cardinals General Manager, John Mozeliak.

“Hiya, John. My client seeks a deal worth $800,000,000 over 17 years.”
“Funny, Dan. That’s about what Bill & the boys paid for the team and this new ballpark.”
“But this is Albert Pujols, and you need a 1B.”
“Got one. Berkman.”
“He can play third. Remember? Chicago?”
“NLCS and World Series MVP, David Freese is over there already.”
“There’s a mystery team willing to offer $1.2 billion over 19 years.”
“He won’t DH.”
“How about something closer to $220,000,000 over, like, 8 years?”
“Let’s step into my office.”

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