© 2010 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

02/15/10 8:50 PM ET

Chavez signs Minors deal with Rangers

Veteran outfielder recovering from major knee surgery

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers added some possible outfield depth for later in the season on Monday, when they signed Endy Chavez to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

Chavez is coming off major knee surgery and is not expected to be ready for the season. But he could be an option later in the season if the Rangers need outfield help.

"When he was right, we liked his ability to play all three outfield spots," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "He's got a reputation for being a great teammate and a hard worker. He can also handle the bat. We felt he was a good guy to bring in."

Chavez, 32, played in 54 games for the Mariners last year before suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee after a collision with shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt on June 19 against the D-backs. He had surgery in July.

Early indications were that Chavez would need a full year of recovery. But the Rangers have been told that he is ahead of schedule.

Chavez is a nine-year Major League veteran with the Royals, Expos/Nationals, Phillies, Mets and Mariners who has played 403 games in center, 216 in left and 140 in right. He was the Expos' regular center fielder in 2003-04 and was sixth in the National League with 32 stolen bases in 2004. A left-handed hitter, Chavez has a career batting average of .270 with a .312 on-base percentage and a .367 slugging percentage.

He hit a career high .306 with a .348 on-base percentage in 133 games and 353 at-bats while playing all three outfield positions for the Mets in 2006. He was in left field in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, and in the sixth inning of a 1-1 game, he made one of the greatest catches in postseason history.

With one out and a runner on first, Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen hit a drive that cleared the left-field wall at Shea Stadium. But Chavez reached high over the wall and snagged the ball at the tip of his glove. The catch took away a two-run home run and instead ended up as an inning-ending double play.

Right now, the Rangers are set in the outfield with Josh Hamilton in left, Julio Borbon in center, Nelson Cruz in right, Vladimir Guerrero at designated hitter and David Murphy as the fourth outfielder.

Brandon Boggs, who had shoulder problems last year, and Craig Gentry are the other two outfielders on the 40-man roster. They will likely start the season at Triple-A Oklahoma in the RedHawks' outfield. Mitch Moreland, who is in camp on a non-roster invite, could also be a part of the RedHawks' outfield. Chavez helps fill a void created when outfielder Greg Golson was traded to the Yankees earlier this offseason.

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