It took several months and a whole lot of contradictory reporting to get to this point, but the good news is that we're finally there once and for all, as multiple sources -- including MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan -- are reporting that the Texas Rangers have reached an agreement with free agent designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero on a one-year, $5-6 million contract with a mutual option for the 2011 regular season.
Specific terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed, but the inclusion of the second-year mutual option essentially means that the contract can be voided at the discretion of either party after the 2010 regular season with no financial repercussions, other than the apparent $1 million buyout that must be paid if the Rangers decline to retain Guerrero's services into 2011; that buyout will not be paid if it is Guerrero who declines the option, so it's not guaranteed money, and a high-caliber performance in 2010 would almost certainly culminate in his re-testing of the open market.
[Couple of addendums: First, there are apparently some plate appearance-based incentives built into this contract that could elevate the total value of the deal by a mid-six-digit sum, so if Guerrero remains relatively healthy, the expectation should probably be that he'll attain some, if not all of those incentives. Second, Guerrero will "likely" bat cleanup behind Josh Hamilton, with Michael Young presumably nailing down the two-hole. No word yet on where the likes of Ian Kinsler, Julio Borbon and Nelson Cruz will bat yet.]
I don't think that there's much else that I can say about the Guerrero-to-Texas thing that I didn't already say here and/or here, but given these expected financial parameters, I will submit that this is a decent-to-good signing and assume the ever-popular "cautiously optimistic" position. Just to reiterate: Yes, Guerrero is a special offensive talent (even if that wasn't necessarily reflected in his 2008-2009 statistics and somebody that, if healthy (which is everybody's favorite qualifer), has a fairly attractive baseline projection with the potential for monster numbers.
This would, in fact, be a great/fantastic/insert-your-favorite-superlative signing if not for the age/health risk factors and the fact that he's defensively impaired; unfortunately, those are all very real limitations, so while this signing does improve the Rangers, it's a modest improvement with a few strings attached -- think one to two extra wins over a 162-game schedule, which is relatively significant in a tight-knit division like this one, but not over-the-top incredible.
The pertinent question to ask is whether the Rangers could have used their limited resources more efficiently and come out better by allocating that money differently; while the answer might actually be 'yes,' you won't find me complaining about this sequence of events. Just understand that while this is yet another step in the right direction (and one which does strengthen the off-season roster makeover undertaken by general manager Jon Daniels), it's not going to launch the Rangers vertically in the standings by a factor of three or four wins, or render Texas the "team to beat" in this division.
You have every reason to get excited. Just don't get carried away in the process.