Berkman is entering the final season of a six-year, $85 million contract. The Astros have a club option worth $15 million for 2011. If they don't exercise it, there is a $2 million buyout.
When asked about his take on the contract situation Wednesday, Berkman made a few jaws drop, saying if he fails to deliver this season and the Astros don't pick up his option for 2011, he will be looking for work elsewhere.
“I may have to, whether I like it or not,” said Berkman, a veteran of 11 seasons in the majors. “It may come down to a situation where if things don't go well, they don't pick up my option, then I probably won't be back.
“If they don't pick it up, I'll probably take my ball and go home.”
The question here is not what happens if the Astros don't pick up Berkman's option, but what kind of performance will Berkman have to put together in 2010 for the Astros not to pick up the option? I know the Astros' payroll situation is tight and they would love nothing more than to cut some payroll, but Berkman's popularity with the Astros makes it difficult for them to simply let him go, even if his prime is long gone.
This statement by Berkman could be a smart move in the long run because the Astros now know that he will not accept a discount so if they want to keep their franchise player around, they will have to pick up the option or risk losing him to retirement.