Free-agent hitter Lance Berkman put retirement plans on hold Saturday, reaching a verbal agreement on a contract with the Rangers.

The deal is for one year, with a salary of $10 million, and Berkman can guarantee a second season by reaching playing-time benchmarks. He will receive a $1 million buyout if the option is not vested. Berkman originally wanted a guaranteed two-year contract to delay retirement, but the Rangers were unwilling to take on the risk.

The contract is contingent on Berkman passing a physical on Monday. He was on the disabled list three times with St. Louis last season, including two stays because of surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in the right knee. He received a cortisone injection in the knee at the end of the season.

Berkman had only 81 at-bats with the Cardinals and missed their eight playoff games. In 2011, Berkman hit .301 with 31 homers and 94 RBIs for the Cardinals during the regular season and .313 with two homers and 11 RBIs for 64 at-bats in the post-season, which ended with a win over the Rangers in Game 7 of the World Series.

The Rangers, who made their original offer before the holidays, and Berkman did not respond to requests for comment. Several industry officials confirmed the agreement. Four other American League clubs — Baltimore, Houston, Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees — were interested in Berkman.

On Thursday, Berkman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that, after considering retirement, he was ready to play. "There is a certain satisfaction that comes from working and doing something you have always done as a career," Berkman said. "As long as you're able to do it and there is an opportunity to do it and it doesn't negatively affect your family, there is something psychologically lifting about doing what you always have.

"The main reason to play is I've played baseball all of my life. I feel like I am still capable of doing it at a high level. Why wouldn't I?"

With Berkman, a switch-hitter, the Rangers likely will have a full-time designated hitter for the first time since Vlad Guerrero in 2010. Manager Ron Washington rotated players in the DH role during the last two seasons, with Michael Young, traded to Philadelphia last month, getting the most at-bats in the spot.