Switch-hitting slugger Lance Berkman was contacted by the Pirates recently about coming to the Steel City in 2014, but his agent told the club that his client is leaning toward retirement, per Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Berkman has been contemplating hanging up the towel for several months now, so his edging away from the baseball diamond should come as no surprise.
The 37-year-old has been on the fence about continuing his career since at least mid-July, when rumors surfaced that he was toying with the idea of walking away from his contract with the Rangers before the season was finished. The "Big Puma" eventually opted to stay with Texas through the end of September, but the Rangers then bought out his option for 2014, making him a free agent.
If Berkman does end up retiring this winter, he'll go right into the history books as one of the greatest threats from both sides of the plate in baseball history. The third-most prominent member of the Astros' "Killer B's" -- behind future Hall-of-Famers Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio -- Berkman is a career .293/.406/.537 hitter with 366 home runs and 1,201 walks in parts of 15 big-league seasons, and his 51.8 wins above replacement puts him 12th all-time among switch-hitters.
One wouldn't guess it by looking at his physique now, but Berkman actually began his career as an outfielder, even manning center field for a year with the Astros (though not very well). Houston eventually made the smart decision to move him to first base full-time when Bagwell retired, and Berkman mostly stayed there through the end of his career.
While he fared pretty well from both sides of the dish, Berkman was an absolute monster as a left-handed batter, hitting .304/.420/.575 with 316 home runs in nearly 6,000 plate appearances. He never took home an MVP trophy, but he did finish in the top five in voting on four occasions, won a World Series trophy with the Cardinals in 2011 and laid claim to six all-star appearances.