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02/20/09 4:24 PM EST

Rangers to sign right-hander Benson

Minor League deal with spring invite likely done this weekend

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers are expected to sign pitcher Kris Benson to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training, possibly this weekend. He recently threw for the Rangers and showed enough to be offered a contract.

Benson hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since 2006, when he was 11-12 with a 4.82 ERA for the Orioles. He missed all of 2007 with a torn rotator cuff and was 1-4 with a 5.52 ERA in 11 starts for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs in 2008.

Benson, the No. 1 overall Draft pick by the Pirates in 1996, is 68-73 with a 4.34 ERA in 195 career starts with Pittsburgh, the Mets and the Orioles. He won a career-high 12 games with the Pirates and Mets in 2004.

He would give the Rangers some experience and depth in their starting rotation, similar to what happened last year when they signed Sidney Ponson and John Patterson in Spring Training.

The Rangers also announced on Friday they had signed 16 players to one-year contracts: pitchers John Bannister, Scott Feldman, Kason Gabbard, Matt Harrison, Tommy Hunter, Luis Mendoza, Dustin Nippert, Omar Poveda and Josh Rupe, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, infielders Jose Vallejo and Joaquin Arias and outfielders Brandon Boggs, Greg Golson, Nelson Cruz and David Murphy. All are in the $400,000 to $435,000 range.

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