Astros rumors: Lance Berkman still top DH target

Bob Levey

Houston is still hoping to bring Berkman back to Minute Maid Park as they make their foray into the American League.

The Houston Astros still have veteran Lance Berkman penciled in at the top of their designated hitter wish list, but the cost of bringing the Big Puma back to Houston remains an issue, reports Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.

The Astros currently have an MLB-low $5.8 million tied up in salary commitments for the 2013 season, so likely have plenty of funds to bring Berkman to Texas if they really want him, but they may rather put that money towards scouting and development than an injury-prone veteran.

Berkman, 36, had a stellar comeback season for the Cardinals in 2011 – helping lead the club to a World Series title – but was beset by a series of knee injuries this past season. The switch-hitting slugger appeared in just 32 games in 2012, hitting .259/.381/.444 with two home runs.

Crasnick adds that if the Astros are unable to work out a deal with Berkman, that they are unlikely to go after the other available veterans like Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, Travis Hafner or Luke Scott.

Their likely DH alternatives would be guys in their late-20s who have never gotten the opportunity to play full-time because they have been "buried". Crasnick doesn’t mention any names outright, but one imagines the MetsLucas Duda or the DiamondbacksKila Ka`aihue could fit that description.

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