Berkman is a three-time All-Star

Updated: March 19, 2005, 5:14 PM ET
Associated Press

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Houston outfielder Lance Berkman completed a six-year, $85 million contract on Saturday with the Astros, keeping the three-time All-Star from becoming a free agent after the 2005 season.

 Lance Berkman
Berkman

"I'm just thrilled to make this type of commitment to the team," Berkman said. "I want to play every game of my career in an Astros uniform. I think this definitely solidifies in my mind that this is the place I want to be, and that this is the organization I love and want to help make a champion."

Berkman avoided salary arbitration in February when he signed a one-year deal worth $10.5 million in February. The new contract, which runs from 2005-10, will include the money he was set to make this year. The Astros also hold an option for 2011.

"We're certainly pleased with Lance's commitment to be a Houston Astro," said team owner Drayton McLane. "Lance is one of the best players in all of baseball and he's got a tremendous future with us. This is a great day for the Astros."

Berkman hit .316 with 30 homers and 106 RBI last season, helping the Astros get within one game of their first World Series. He led Houston in batting average, homers, walks, slugging percentage, total bases, on-base percentage and games.

But he is expected to miss the start of the 2005 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a flag football game in November.

"The knee is fine, and it's where it's expected to be at this point," Berkman said. "I haven't had any setbacks at all. It's been a slow, steady progression, and hopefully before too much longer, I'll be able to play in a game."

A three-time All-Star who turns 29 on Feb. 10, Berkman has hit .303 with 156 homers and 535 RBI since 1999.

He is coming off a three-year contract that guaranteed him $10.5 million, and he earned an additional $575,000 in bonuses under that deal.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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