Cardinals slugger Lance Berkman, who is still hopeful that he can recover well enough from late season knee surgery to play in the World Series should St. Louis make it, told Fox Sports Midwest that he doesn't plan to decide if he'll retire until February.
Berkman said he wants to play for a contender, which would bode well for an extension of his time with the Cardinals, but that he also would require a "decent" salary. And that's probably something the Cardinals won't be able to offer.
Allen Craig has taken over fulltime at first base and Carlos Beltran has right field nailed down. Those were Berkman's two positions with the Cardinals, so there doesn't seem to be room for him to find significant playing time in St. Louis. He might make a pretty first rate pinch hitter and who fills in a couple of days a week in the outfield corners or at first base if his knees held up. But his hopes for a "decent" salary would seem to indicate that he's out of the Cardinals price range.
The Cardinals used most of the payroll flexibility they had when the inked Jake Westbrook to a contract extension. While Kyle Lohse is likely to depart as a free agent and the Cardinals will save money on Berkman's $12 million salary for 2012, they will pay more next year for several players:
Adam Wainwright's salary will increase from $9 million in 2012 to $12 million in 2013. Chris Carpenter made $8.5 million this year and is set to make $12.5 million next. Yadier Molina made $7 million in 2012 and will make $15 million in 2013 with the new contract he signed in spring training. Rafael Furcal's contract calls for a $1 million raise to $7 million in 2013. Jaime Garcia goes from $3.25 million to $5.75 million. Several of the young players including closer Jason Motte will be eligible for significant raises in 2013 as well.