Notes: Vazquez signs one-year deal

Notes: Vazquez signs one-year deal

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have signed utility infielder Ramon Vazquez to a one-year contract and avoided a potential arbitration hearing, the club announced on Wednesday.

Vazquez agreed to an $810,000 salary for 2008.

Vazquez filled a prominent role for the Rangers last season, helping fill in while second baseman Ian Kinsler and third baseman Hank Blalock were sidelined with injuries. He played in 104 games with 300 at-bats and batted .230 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs.

He played 71 games at third base, 13 at second base and 19 at shortstop behind Michael Young. He goes into 2008 as the leading candidate to be the club's utility infielder.

"We've been talking to Ramon's representatives for some time, and there was a mutual interest to get a deal done," Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said.

The Rangers still have three players eligible for arbitration: catcher Gerald Laird, outfielder Marlon Byrd and pitcher Akinori Otsuka. The Rangers have not had an arbitration hearing since 2000.

The Rangers, who have already avoided arbitration hearings with pitchers Joaquin Benoit and Frank Francisco, are further along in their talks with Otsuka than they are with Laird or Byrd. Otsuka, who missed the last three months of the season with elbow inflammation, is currently on a throwing program in Arizona but has not yet thrown off a mound.

Hot Stove

Rangers sign Roberts: The Rangers have signed infielder Ryan Roberts to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

Roberts, who played locally at L.D. Bell High and UT-Arlington, played at Triple-A Syracuse in the Blue Jays' system, hitting .249 with 12 home runs and 47 RBIs in 100 games. He played every infield position as well as left and center field.

Roberts was an 18th-round pick by the Blue Jays and has played 17 games in the Major Leagues with two hits in 26 at-bats. He hit his only Major League home run off Cory Lidle on Aug. 3, 2006, at Yankee Stadium.

Briefly: Levine said the Rangers continue to discuss a multiyear deal with Kinsler, but nothing is close. ... The Rangers might have interest in outfielder Scott Podsednik, who was let go by the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, but he is far down their list. Podsednik was originally drafted by the Rangers.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.