Rangers glad to have 'feared' hitter

Updated: January 11, 2010, 11:48 PM ET
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com

The Texas Rangers have signed free-agent slugger Vladimir Guerrero to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2011.

The deal is for $5.5 million and includes performance bonuses. Guerrero, who passed his physical on Monday in Arlington, gets $1 million if the club elects not to exercise the option. He can walk away from the contract without penalty after 2010 if he chooses.

"We're excited to welcome Vlad to the Rangers family," general manager Jon Daniels said in a statement. "This is a guy we've both admired and feared for years from across the field. He's been one of the most dangerous hitters in the game for over a decade. He'll bring a presence to the middle of the order, and a winning pedigree to the club."

Guerrero, who turns 35 in February, will fill a void for a right-handed bat in the middle of the lineup after the team lost Marlon Byrd to free agency. Guerrero likely will be the club's designated hitter.

"I feel good that I've had a lot of success hitting here and I'm hoping to help the team win and stay healthy and do the same things I've done in the past on this field," Guerrero said through an interpreter during his introduction. "I've been well for the last couple of months and I'm just hoping to be healthy in 2010."

Guerrero has a .321 career batting average, fifth among active players. He has played the last six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, and he hit .295 with 15 homers and 50 RBIs in 100 games last season. He had two stints on the disabled list, including one nearly month-long stretch with a strained left knee.

The Rangers are very familiar with Guerrero's prowess at the plate, as the 2004 AL MVP dominated them while with the Angels. He has the highest career batting average (.394) and slugging percentage (.705) of any player with at least 50 games played at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He has 14 homers, 18 doubles, 38 runs scored and 33 RBIs in 50 games at his new home.

"He makes everyone better," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It's just having his presence. The pedigree that he brings, what he's done throughout his career. We have a core here that's pretty good.

"I told him, 'We will have people all over the bag.' What we want is for him to do what he does best. It makes me as a manager look better, the Texas Rangers look better. He made every player that goes in lineup with him better. I'm excited."

Guerrero also has postseason experience, something the Rangers are lacking. He has participated in the playoffs five of the last six seasons. In his last two, Guerrero has hit .404 (21-for-52) with a home run, four doubles and seven RBIs in 13 games.

The Rangers are Guerrero's third team. The eight-time All-Star Game selection spent his first eight seasons with the Montreal Expos (1996-2003).

Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

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