Infielder agrees to one-year deal

Updated: January 5, 2004, 5:30 PM ET
Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Eric Young agreed Monday to a $1 million, one-year contract with the Texas Rangers, where he will take on a utility role rather than being an everyday second baseman.

General manager John Hart said the Rangers envision Young as an outfielder and a backup at second base and shortstop.

"I realized that eventually it was going to come to that situation," said Young, who will turn 37 next season. "If I'm able to use my versatility, I think my career would be prolonged."

Young played in 125 games last season for Milwaukee and San Francisco, and hit a combined .250 with 20 doubles, a career-high 15 homers, 34 RBI and 28 steals.

In 12 major league seasons, Young has a .285 average for Los Angeles, Colorado, the Chicago Cubs, Brewers and Giants. He has 287 doubles and 436 steals, fifth among active players.

Young has been almost exclusively a second baseman since 1996, when he hit .324 for the Rockies and was an All-Star. He has played only four games in the outfield since, those coming in the last two seasons when he played 240 games at second base.

"This is a new challenge for me, a new opportunity," Young said. "I've always been the type of guy that strives on competition and pushing other guys to the max and the limit."

In addition to his salary, Young can earn $350,000 in bonuses.

The Rangers have Michael Young at second base and American League MVP and Gold Glove winner Alex Rodriguez at shortstop -- the team says he won't be traded.

Michael Young, the starter the past 2 seasons and just 27 years old, hit .306 in 160 games last year and made just 10 errors in 786 chances.

"This signing today has nothing to do with trying to lessen Mike's playing time," manager Buck Showalter said. "We added a well-rounded player."

Texas, coming off its fourth straight last-place finish in the AL East, previously agreed to deals with outfielders Brian Jordan and David Dellucci, and first baseman/designated hitter Brad Fullmer.

Texas also designated right-hander Reynaldo Garcia for assignment. He appeared in 17 games over three stints with Texas last season, and had a 9.00 ERA over 18 innings.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press