Rangers sign Lofton to one-year deal

Rangers sign Lofton to one-year deal

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers, beginning what should be a busy week, officially signed center fielder Kenny Lofton to a one-year, $6 million deal on Tuesday.

"Kenny is one of the best leadoff hitters in the game and has played on many postseason clubs over the years," said Rangers general manager Jon Daniels. "He can get on base, set the tone for the lineup and play center field. He's a winner and will be a great addition to our team."

Club officials also said on Monday that the Rangers have made a formal offer to free agent pitcher Barry Zito and his agent Scott Boras. The New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants are also pursuing Zito aggressively.

Lofton, 39, hit .301 with a .360 on-base percentage, 79 runs scored and 32 stolen bases for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. He is expected to be the Rangers starting center fielder and replace Gary Matthews Jr., who signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last month.

"It was a case where a team was wanting to win," Lofton said. "That's what I'm all about, and I talked to (new Rangers manager Ron) Washington a lot about it. They said they were going to put the pieces together and if they had a guy like me on the team that the pieces would fall together a little bit quicker. So, I'm like, here we go."

Lofton will likely get the majority of the playing time in center field, although Texas signed Marlon Byrd last week. The Rangers envision Lofton playing in 100-110 games in center with Byrd possibly being used to help keep him fresh.

Lofton, a four-time Gold Glove winner and six-time All-Star, has 599 career stolen bases, the most by any active player and 17th all-time. His 1,442 career runs scored is sixth among active players.

Brad Wilkerson can also play center field, but will likely share time in left in the designated hitter role with Frank Catalanotto. Nelson Cruz is expected to be the Rangers' starting right fielder.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Material from The Associated Press was used in this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.