Houston, TX Sports Network) - The Houston Astros Saturday signed outfielder Lance Berkman to a six-year contract worth $85 million. The deal begins in 2005 and extends through 2010 and also includes a seventh-year option with a buyout clause.
Berkman is coming off a stellar 2004 season in which he hit .316 for the Astros with 30 homers and 106 RBI in 160 games.
Last year, the 29-year-old led the club in hitting, games, total bases, homers, walks, intentional walks, slugging and on-base percentage. Berkman was also named the team's Most Valuable Player for the third time in four years (2001 and 2002).
"Lance Berkman has established himself as one of the elite offensive players in the game," said Houston general manager Tim Purpura. "Signing Lance to a long-term contract was one of our top priorities, and his presence in our lineup over at least the next six seasons is a tremendous boost to our chances to win a championship."
Berkman, a three-time All-Star (2001, 2002, 2004), has batted .303 with 156 home runs and 535 RBI in 775 career games for the Astros from 1999-2004.
He is the first outfielder to notch as many as three 30-homer seasons with the Astros and is tied with Moises Alou for the most 100-RBI campaigns in team history with three.
Houston came within one game in 2004 of reaching the team's first-ever World Series as they lost to St. Louis in the deciding seventh game of the NLCS.
Berkman, however, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in November while playing flag football and he's expected to miss at least the first month of the season.