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Astros sign Hidalgo to minor-league deal

HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros said Friday they've signed outfielder Richard Hidalgo, a former team MVP, to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Hidalgo, 31, attended spring training with the Baltimore Orioles in 2006 but did not appear in a big-league game last season. In June 2004, Houston traded Hidalgo to the New York Mets for right-handed pitchers Jeremy Griffiths and David Weathers. He signed as a free agent with Texas in December of that year.

Hidalgo was originally signed by the Astros as an undrafted free agent in 1991 and played eight major-league seasons with the team from 1997-2004. In 813 games with the Astros, he hit .278 with 134 home runs and 465 RBIs.

He was the Astros' most valuable player by the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America in 2003, when he hit .309 with 28 homers and 88 RBIs. His 44-homer season in 2000 gave him the fourth 40-homer season in Houston franchise history.

Hidalgo is currently playing for the Magallanes club in the Venezuelan winter league.