- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 16, 2011

MILWAUKEE (AP) - After a record-breaking season, the Milwaukee Brewers took the risk that Rickie Weeks’ injury-plagued career is firmly in the past.

Weeks agreed to a $38.5 million, four-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday that contains a 2015 option which could increase the total value to $50 million.

“We are thrilled that Rickie has chosen to remain a Brewer,” general manager Doug Melvin said. “He has become one of the best leadoff hitters in the game today; possessing speed, plate discipline and power. His aggressive style sets the tone for our offense.”

Weeks, the No. 2 overall draft pick in the 2003 amateur draft, was a day from an arbitration hearing after saying last month he would end long-term contract talks with the team when he reported to spring training.

The 28-year-old proved too valuable to pass up.

“It feels good. It feels real good at a time like this,” Weeks said. “Players leave teams often. It’s one of those things where it happens a lot around baseball, football and basketball. It feels good that I’m going to have security.”

After making $2.85 million last year, he sought $7.2 million in arbitration, while the team offered $4.85 million.

Weeks hit .269 with 29 homers, 83 RBIs and 112 runs in 160 games as the Brewers‘ primary leadoff hitter last year, shattering most of the franchise’s marks for a second baseman while putting up the best power numbers in his career.

He has a simple explanation for why.

“If you stay healthy, good things happen,” Weeks said. “I don’t set expectations on really anything. I just want to go out there, play good baseball for us and stay healthy.”

The organization has never questioned his toughness, but his durability had been the biggest issue until last season. Weeks missed half of a year with right wrist surgery in 2006, needed a procedure on his knee after 2008 and played all but 37 games in 2009 after a left wrist injury.

“Rickie is also one of the toughest players to play the game and has always played at a high-intensity level,” Melvin said.

That led to a creative option in the fifth year of the contract.

Weeks will receive a $4 million signing bonus, of which $1.5 million is payable upon approval and $2.5 million on July 15. He will receive salaries of $3.5 million this year, $10 million in 2012, $10 million in 2013 and $11 million in 2014.

Weeks’ option year is for $11.5 million, but the club can void 2015 if he does not make 600 plate appearances in 2014 or 1,200 plate appearances over 2013-14 combined.

Weeks broke the franchise record last year with 754 plate appearances.

Milwaukee’s projected starting lineup and starting rotation is under contract or team control through the 2012 season other than slugger Prince Fielder, who can become a free agent after the World Series.

Weeks was a key in Milwaukee’s plans.

The Brewers traded their best other option at second base when they sent top prospect Brett Lawrie to Toronto for right-hander Shaun Marcum in December. Negotiations with Weeks’ agent were steady throughout.

“It was one of those things, if the time was right, it would get done,” Weeks said. “It’s good. It means I’m a Milwaukee Brewer for a long period of time now.”

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