- Associated Press - Thursday, February 10, 2011

ARLINGTON, TEXAS (AP) - AL MVP Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers agreed Thursday to a two-year contract that avoids an arbitration hearing next week.

The deal was reached Thursday, four days before a scheduled hearing in Phoenix.

Hamilton said earlier this week that the AL champions had approached his agent about the possibility of a deal to cover his last two arbitration-eligible seasons. Hamilton can become a free agent after the 2012 World Series.

He hit a major league-leading .359 last season with 32 homers and 100 RBIs despite missing most of the final month of the regular season with broken ribs. He returned for end of regular season and the playoffs.


Hamilton and the Rangers were scheduled to discuss the deal in a news conference later Thursday.

Hamilton made $3.25 million last season, when the Rangers went to the World Series for the first time in franchise history. When the sides exchange proposed arbitration salaries last month, Hamilton had asked for $12 million, $3.3 million more than Texas had offered.

The three-time All-Star has a .311 career average with 93 homers and 331 RBIs in 468 major league games, an incredible comeback for the former No. 1 overall draft pick whose career was derailed by his well-documented cocaine and alcohol addictions after he got hurt in the minors. He made his major league debut with Cincinnati in 2007, and he flourished after being traded to Texas.

Hamilton spent six days in the hospital last month with pneumonia and lost 10 pounds during his illness.

After working out with several teammates earlier this week, Hamilton said he was feeling “good, very good” and was back to 233 pounds after regaining his lost weight. He planned to put on a few more pounds before spring training.

Rangers pitchers and catchers report to Surprise, Ariz., next Wednesday. The first full-squad workout is Feb. 20.