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02/03/09 4:55 PM EST

Weeks agrees to pre-arbitration deal

Hart lone remaining player eligible for hearing process

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers agreed to terms with second baseman Rickie Weeks on a $2.45 million, one-year contract on Tuesday while continuing to negotiate with their only other arbitration-eligible player.

With Weeks in the fold, right fielder Corey Hart was the last of the Brewers up for arbitration, the process by which teams and eligible players -- generally those with between three and six years of Major League service -- set year-to-year salaries. Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said he had a number of brief conversations on Monday with agent Jeff Berry regarding Hart but that, "a gap still remains." Hart filed for a $3.8 million salary in arbitration while the team offered $2.7 million.

Talks progressed much more smoothly with Weeks, Milwaukee's unconventional leadoff hitter. He will reportedly earn a $2.45 million base salary in 2009 plus an additional $100,000 in performance bonuses based on plate appearances from 575 to 650. That would be uncharted territory for Weeks, who made a career-high 560 plate appearances in 2008, when he missed two weeks with a sprained left knee. In previous seasons, he was limited by hand and wrist injuries.

As usual, the sides settled near the midpoint of arbitration figures filed on Jan. 20. Weeks was seeking $2.8 million in his first year of eligibility, while the Brewers offered $2 million.

The second overall pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, Weeks batted .234 last season with 14 home runs, 89 runs scored and a .342 on-base percentage. Weeks re-injured his left knee in Game 3 of the National League Division Series and underwent surgery Oct. 6 to repair the meniscus but is expected to arrive in Phoenix for Spring Training at full strength.

As for Hart, the sides can continue negotiating until the date of a hearing before a three-member panel of judges, which selects one salary or the other. Hart's hearing is scheduled for February 18.

Speaking to reporters at the Brewers' Winter Warm-Up on Jan. 23, Hart conceded he was a bit concerned about the difference between the team's filing and the one submitted by his agent.

Hot Stove
"It's a big gap," he said. "I was surprised."

The Brewers were also unable to come to terms with Berry on Hart's value last season, before Hart had accrued enough service time to be arbitration-eligible, so the team renewed Hart's contract at $444,000. He responded with a second straight season with at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases, but finished on a low note, hitting .173 in September before going 3-for-13 with no RBIs in the NLDS.

Berry did not return a telephone message this week.

The Brewers have not gone to an arbitration hearing with a player during general manager Doug Melvin's tenure, which began in September 2002. Hart said he's willing to go to a hearing if necessary, but both sides would prefer to avoid one.

"You hear horror stories about all the negativity," Hart said. "I love being here and I want to make sure they know that."

Once 2009 salaries are set, the Brewers will begin building a list of players to approach during Spring Training about multi-year extensions, according to principal owner Mark Attanasio. Such deals offer the team potential cost savings while guaranteeing players some financial security, and it is likely that Hart, who will not be eligible for free agency until the 2011-12 offseason, will be near the top of the team's list.

The Brewers also could make a strong pitch to right-hander Yovani Gallardo, even though he has only one year and 108 days of Major League service and will not be arbitration-eligible until the 2010-11 offseason.

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