Brewers, Fielder Avoid Arbitration

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MILWAUKEE (AP) - Prince Fielder and the Milwaukee Brewers
completed an $18 million, two-year contract on Friday, a deal that
avoided salary arbitration.

"It's just as important he doesn't have to worry about arbitration from his standpoint," general manager Doug Melvin said. "It can be a distraction every year."

The 24-year-old Fielder receives a $1 million signing bonus and salaries of $6.5 million this year and $10.5 million in 2010.

Fielder can make a $250,000 performance bonus each year if he has
500 or more plate appearances.

He would be eligible for arbitration again in 2011 and could become a free agent after the 2011 season.

In 2007, Fielder became the youngest player to hit 50 home runs, and he batted .288 with 119 RBIs. Last year, he hit .276 with 34 homers and 102 RBIs as Milwaukee reached the postseason for the first time since 1982.

Melvin said the club has no concerns about Fielder's conditioning and has kept tabs on what he's been doing in the offseason.

The Brewers were also close to completing a $1 million, one-year
deal with veteran infielder Craig Counsell, negotiations previously
reported by and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Melvin said a deal with Counsell likely wouldn't be announced until

Counsell played the previous two seasons with the Brewers, but
they did not exercise his $3.4 million option earlier this offseason. He hit .226 with one homer and 14 RBIs in 110 games last season.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-01-23-09 1808EST