Outfielder agrees to one-year contract

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Wanting another bat to support their young players, the Texas Rangers agreed Friday to a $5 million, one-year contract with right fielder Richard Hidalgo.

Hidalgo, 29, split last season between the Houston Astros and the New York Mets, hitting .239 with 25 homers and 82 RBI. The Mets declined a $15 million option, paying a $2 million buyout.

"It's no secret that we've been looking for a couple of corner bats," Rangers general manager John Hart said. "Richard fits that bill perfectly."

Texas was a surprise team last season, staying in contention until an 11-inning loss to Anaheim in the 158th game of the season. While the Rangers finished 89-73, just three games behind the AL West-winning Angels, Hart and manager Buck Showalter thought young players struggled at the plate in the final weeks, mentioning that Laynce Nix and Kevin Mench couldn't carry the offense themselves.

"We had a lot of guys going through 162 games for the first time," Showalter said.

Hidalgo was dealt by Houston on June 17 and hit .228 (74-for-324) with 21 homers and 52 RBI in 86 games with New York.

In addition to his base salary, he can make $500,000 in performance bonuses, getting the full amount at 600 plate appearances. Of his base salary, $500,000 is deferred, with
$100,000 paid in 2006 and $200,000 each in 2007 and 2008.

Hart said most of the top-name free agents had priced themselves out of the Rangers' range, saying he did not expect a "big-ticket, premier dollar signing."