Cardinals Sign Free Agent Lance Berkman

Five-time NL All-Star joins St. Louis Cardinals on a one-year contract apparently to play the outfield.

St. Louis Cardinals Sr. Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak announced Saturday that the Cardinals have agreed to terms with free agent outfielder/first baseman Lance Berkman on a one-year deal for the upcoming 2011 season. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by the club, but Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman reports the contract is for $8 million.

Berkman, 34, is a veteran of 11-plus seasons in the majors, most of which were spent with N.L. Central rival Houston (1999-2010) where he was a key member of the Astros' famed "Killer B's" lineup. Berkman was traded to the New York Yankees on July 31 and helped the Bronx Bombers to the American League Wild Card where they eventually lost in the American League Championship Series to the Texas Rangers.

"We are extremely excited to have added Lance to our ballclub," stated Mozeliak. "He's an impact player who not only helps solidify our everyday lineup, but he also brings a wealth experience to our team."

The switch-hitting Berkman owns a career batting mark of .296 with 327 home runs and 1099 RBI in 1,629 games. His career .409 on-base percentage is ranked 4th among active players and his .545 slugging mark is ranked 10th. Berkman has placed among the N.L. top-10 in on-base pct. eight times and has finished among the league's top-10 in batting on four occasions.

The five-time All-Star (2001-02, 2004, 2006, 2008) holds the National League record for single-season RBI by a switch-hitter with 136 in 2006. He's had six seasons with 100 or more RBI and belted 25 or more home runs eight times, including a career best 45 in 2006.

Nicknamed the "Big Puma", Berkman has shined during postseason play, producing a career .320 batting mark with 7 home runs and 30 RBI in 34 games. He batted .385 for the Astros in the 2005 World Series.

The Waco, TX native has started more then 100 games at all three outfield positions, with 447 of his 841 outfield starts coming as a left fielder. He has made over 700 starts at first base.

Berkman combined to hit .248 last season with the Astros and Yankees in 122 games, hitting 14 home runs to go along with 58 RBI. He is a lifetime .299 batter against N.L. Central teams with 169 home runs and 540 RBI in 767 games. He's hit seven home runs with 17 RBI in 28 games at Busch Stadium III to go along with a .284 batting mark.

A major question regarding Berkman is past knee problems and the potential impact on his defense and availability. As the Astros regular first baseman, he has not played the outfield regularly since 2004.

Berkman underwent surgery in November 2004 to reconstruct a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee. He began the 2005 season on the disabled list and was not activated until May.

Berkman also had minor surgeries on his left knee in 1999 and again during spring training in 2010. He made his 2010 regular season debut on April 20. Berkman also spent time on the disabled list in 2009 due to a left calf strain.

On Saturday in Orlando, Fla., Berkman passed a physical exam administered by Cardinals medical personnel, reports FOX Sports Midwest.

With the signing, the Cardinals 40-man roster stands at 38.

Note: A St. Louis Cardinals press release provided the majority of this article. Join the Berkman discussion on our Message Board.

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