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Corey Hart Rumors
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright has left the team’s Spring Training complex in Florida and will head to St. Louis after experiencing abdominal pain, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wainwright will see a specialist in St. Louis to diagnose the source of the injury. GM John Mozeliak said it would be incorrect to label the injury a sports hernia at this time. Wainwright said that he’s been feeling better each day, but seeing a specialist will give the team some further clarity.
- The Cubs announced today that they have hired Manny Ramirez as a hitting consultant. Ramirez, who spent the 2014 season as a player-coach with Chicago’s Triple-A affiliate, will work with the Cubs’ Major League and Minor League players on the fundamental and mental aspects of hitting, according to a press release from the team.
- Via ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers, commissioner Rob Manfred said yesterday that the investigation into the Cubs‘ alleged tampering regarding their hiring of Joe Maddon will be resolved by Opening Day (Twitter link). The Cubs agreed to bring Maddon on as their new manager on a five-year deal just 10 days after he opted out of his contract with the Rays.
- Corey Hart had other offers in free agency but welcomed the opportunity to return to the familiar setting of the NL Central when the Pirates made a one-year offer, he tells Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Hart admits that he also rushed back to action too quickly in 2014 after missing the entire 2013 season due to surgery on both of his knees. The fact that Pirates have morphed into one of the National League’s best teams over the past few seasons also played a role in his decision to select Pittsburgh’s offer.
- The Pirates are drawing some influence from the NBA’s Golden State Warriors in determining how much to rest their stars this offseason, writes ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Manager Clint Hurdle said that an interesting article on how much the Warriors are resting their best players and how the on-court production has improved as a result Seeing the analysis was no accident, however, as GM Neal Huntington tells Stark that the Pirates are constantly studying successful teams in other sports to see if any trends or philosophies can carry over to baseball.
DEC. 22: Heyman tweets the exact breakdown of Hart’s incentives. He will earn $250K for reaching 350, 375, 400 and 425 plate appearances. Reaching 450, 475, 500, 525 and 550 will each net Hart $300K.
DEC. 19, 12:59pm: Hart will earn $2.5MM in base salary and can double it with another $2.5MM in incentives, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
12:55pm: The Pirates announced that they have signed free agent Corey Hart.
Hart could serve as a platoon partner with Pedro Alvarez to help make up for his shortcomings against lefties. After missing the entire 2013 season due to knee surgery, Hart was signed by the Mariners around this time last year. The veteran made 55 starts as a designated hitter while also making seven appearances in right field, two at first base and one in left field. All in all, he posted a .203/.271/.319 slash line in 255 plate appearances. Prior to his lost 2013 season, Hart owned a career .276/.334/.491 slash line.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Hart, the Pirates have designated right-handed pitcher Preston Guilmet for assignment. To keep up with his status and everyone else in DFA limbo, check out MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.
A few notes on some free agents on a busy first day of the annual GM Meetings…
- Octagon agent Alan Nero and his team are ready to advance talks regarding clients Victor Martinez, Jason Hammel and Asdrubal Cabrera, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets. While we don’t typically see too many free agents come off the board this early in the offseason, it sounds as if Octagon is being aggressive.
- Corey Hart has received interest from several teams despite his down season in 2014, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The market is thin on power hitters and Hart, 32, was a 30-homer threat from 2010-12 before undergoing surgery on both knees and sitting out the 2013 campaign.
- Jason Grilli has had some interest from multiple clubs, but the bullpen-hungry Tigers aren’t among them, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press tweets.
- Ichiro Suzuki has switched agents and is now represented by John Boggs, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). Suzuki had previously been represented by Tony Attanasio.
- Also from Rosenthal, Alberto Callaspo has switched agents and is now represented by Praver Shapiro Sports Management. Callaspo had previously been represented by Eric Goldschmidt. For agency info on over 1,700 players, check out MLBTR’s oft-updated Agency Database.
With teams in preparation for the upcoming offseason, there will be numerous minor outrights over the coming weeks. We’ll run down today’s outrights and other minor moves in this post…
- After being designated for assignment late in the year by the Mariners, first baseman/DH Corey Hart has elected free agency after clearing outright waivers, MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets. Though it may or may not have any practical import, Hart will be eligible to sign a new deal now, rather than waiting until until after the World Series for the official onset of free agency.
- The Phillies announced that they have outrighted Sean O’Sullivan off the 40-man roster. The right-hander will be eligible to become a minor league free agent. O’Sullivan made three appearances (two starts) for the Phils this season, yielding nine runs on 15 hits and a pair of walks with seven strikeouts in 12 2/3 total innings. In parts of five big league seasons, the 27-year-old O’Sullivan has a 5.91 ERA in 231 1/3 innings with 4.3 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 40 percent ground-ball rate.
The Mariners have re-instated Jesus Montero to their 40-man roster and designated pending free agent Corey Hart for assignment in order to make room, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune (Twitter link).
Because Hart is a pending free agent, the move is a largely procedural one; he’d have been off the team’s 40-man roster following the postseason anyway and wasn’t a candidate for a qualifying offer base on a down season. The former Brewer batted just .203/.271/.319 in his lone season with the Mariners — a clear disappointment for a team that was undoubtedly hoping to have secured something closer to the .279/.343/.514 batting line he posted from 2010-12 in Milwaukee. Anything close to that production would’ve made his $6MM base salary a bargain, but Hart was a known risk after missing all of 2013 due to a pair of knee surgeries.
Rehabbing Mets ace Matt Harvey hopes to return to big league action at the end of this season, the righty tells Tom Verducci of SI.com. While Harvey acknowledged that he would not push to return before being cleared, he said he wants to re-establish himself on the hill before the year is out. “I just want the peace of mind,” said Harvey. “I want to go back out there and know I still have the stuff to strike out major league hitters.” For his part, club GM Sandy Alderson sounded a cautious note, reports ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin. “Not being a medical doctor and not really faced with that decision previously, I’ll reserve judgment,” he said. “But the one thing we don’t want to do is be put in a situation where someone — Matt, or anyone else — has a setback because we’ve pushed the natural recovery processes further than we should have.”
Here’s the latest on some injury situations around the game that could potentially have transactional implications:
- Cliff Lee of the Phillies underwent an MRI today on his left elbow, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. The durable and excellent lefty has been throwing through elbow tenderness for the last several weeks, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the discomfort increased in his last start. The 35-year-old has been diagnosed with a flexor pronator strain, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, though a full assessment will await the results of the MRI. Needless to say, a prolonged absence or ongoing injury questions could not only have ramifications for the Phils’ ability to stay in the post-season race, but could heavily impact the summer’s starting pitching trade market. Lee, who has 21-club no-trade rights, is owed $25MM this year and next before a 2016 vesting/club option that comes with a $12.5MM buyout.
- Mariners first baseman/outfielder/DH Corey Hart is expected to miss four to six weeks, reports MLB.com’s Greg Johns (via Twitter). That news — and Stephen Drew‘s signing with the Red Sox today — has fueled calls for Seattle to take another look at re-signing first baseman/DH Kendrys Morales. Should Morales stay a free agent until the upcoming amateur draft, of course, he will be free to sign anywhere without costing his new team a pick, and without returning a compensatory choice to the M’s.
- Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran still hopes to play through the bone spur in his elbow, but if surgery is required he would be out for about two months, reports Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter links). Beltran saw Dr. James Andrews today, who confirmed the original diagnosis. It appears that the question at this point is whether or not Beltran can deal with the pain while playing at full speed.
Here's the latest from the Mariners' camp…
- Corey Hart would have taken a lesser offer than the Mariners' one-year, $6MM contract in order to remain with the Brewers, but Hart told reporters (including Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) that the Crew's offer "wasn’t really close at all." While Seattle offered Hart $6MM guaranteed with another $4.65MM available in incentives, the Brewers' best offer was a $4MM deal with an extra $2.5MM in incentives. "I even talked to [Brewers GM Doug Melvin], and he basically said, 'I couldn’t turn that down, so why would you be expected to?’ They understood there was a huge gap," Hart said. "It was one of those things where I would have liked to stay if it was close, but in the long run it wasn’t that close, and they weren’t pushing like [the Mariners] were." Hart also noted that several Brewers coaches reached out in an attempt to convince him to stay, but none of his teammates made similar overtures.
- Stefen Romero's case for making the Opening Day roster as a backup outfielder is looking better and better, MLB.com's Greg Johns writes. Romero is a right-handed hitter and already on the 40-man roster, plus he offers versatility due to his experience at both second and third base. Romeo, a tenth-round pick in 2010, has an .863 OPS over 1426 minor league PA and has been hitting increasingly well this spring.
- The M's were rumored to be looking for pitching in the wake of injuries to Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, but MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby notes that the solid performance of the team's internal arms has put that speculation to rest. With Iwakuma and Walker both on pace to return at the end of April, the Mariners will turn to a list of replacements that includes Blake Beavan (who had been pitching well before a poor performance in today's game), minor league southpaw Roenis Elias and veterans Scott Baker and Randy Wolf.
Now that it's clear Nelson Cruz won't be back, it's unclear who the Rangers will use as their designated hitter against lefties, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. The Rangers still had interest in Cruz, Grant writes, noting that, in addition to the qualifying offer, they made at least one offer that exceeded the $8MM Cruz ended up taking from the Orioles. That leaves them with a variety of options to play DH against lefties, but none manager Ron Washington likes very much: Mitch Moreland is a lefty, Michael Choice doesn't have enough experience for Washington's taste, and Washington would prefer to keep the Rangers' spare catcher (Geovany Soto or J.P. Arencibia, depending on who isn't starting) available on the bench.
- With Cruz off the market, Grant, in a separate article, believes now is the time for the Rangers to extend manager Ron Washington. Grant also opines players tagged with qualifying offers are going to think more seriously about accepting them in light of Cruz's surprisingly small contract.
- Yankees manager Joe Girardi thinks new minor-league signee Andrew Bailey can help them in the late innings, but probably not until September, Jack Curry of the YES Network tweets. The former Athletics and Red Sox closer had labrum surgery last July.
- The Red Sox will try Mike Carp out at a new position this spring, Alex Speier of WEEI.com tweets. While Spring Training experiments like these aren't uncommon and often have little long-term impact, a bit of added versatility might change Carp's outlook with the Red Sox, particularly if he can play third, where the Red Sox are less settled than they are elsewhere. Carp hit .296/.362/.523 in 243 plate appearances last season, but the Red Sox already have plenty of talent at first base, left field and DH, which has led to speculation that Carp could be a trade candidate.
- Scott Boras blames the Blue Jays' lack of activity in the free agent market on its ownership, Rogers Communications, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. "There is no one who has the asset base of Rogers," said Boras. "They’re a car with a huge engine that is impeded by a big corporate stop sign . . . a successful and committed ownership that needs to give their baseball people financial flexibility." GM Alex Anthopoulos denied Boras' assertion telling Rosenthal, "Our ownership has been outstanding and given us all the resources we need." The Blue Jays' payroll is expected to exceed $130MM this season.
- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon told reporters, including Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune, Justin Smoak will be the team's first baseman as long he performs. This means McClendon expects new acquistions Logan Morrison and Corey Hart to man the corner outfield spots and DH.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow acknowledged internal discussions about a contract extension for catcher Jason Castro have taken place, reports the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich. No offer, however, has been discussed with Castro.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Last night, the L.A. Times' Dylan Hernandez elaborated on reports that Michael Young is said to be weighing retirement, noting that if Young played in 2014, it can be considered a "safe bet" that it will be for the Dodgers. Young has been connected to a number of teams thus far, but to this point, there's yet to be a concrete indication as to whether or not he will play next season. Here's more out of baseball's Western divisions…
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels said over the weekend at the team's fan fest that he would approach ace Yu Darvish about an extension "at the right time," writes ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett. Daniels pointed out that Darvish is controlled for four more years, so there's no urgency in getting a new deal worked out. The team's current focus is on getting Darvish, who was unsurprisingly announced as the Opening Day starter, ready to make 33 starts in 2014. As Durrett reminds, Darvish's contract allows him to opt out of the final year if he wins a Cy Young or finishes No. 2-4 in the voting twice from now through 2016.
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post has still not heard of any interest from the Rockies in terms of a potential reunion with Ubaldo Jimenez (Sulia link). The relationship between the two sides ended poorly, says Renck, and it wouldn't make sense on Jimenez's behalf to spend the bulk of his career pitching at an altitude.
- Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that the Mariners are comfortable using a rotation of Corey Hart, Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison at first base and DH, with Hart eventually getting more time in the outfield as his surgically repaired knees recover. Hart has been doing simulated ground-balls to work on his footwork and agility but has not yet progressed to taking fly-balls, he said at the Mariners' fan fest this weekend. The presence of all three first base/DH-type players led to trade speculation earlier in the offseason.
- Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes that Prince Fielder will hit third ahead of Adrian Beltre in next year's Rangers lineup — a concept that caused Beltre to boldly proclaim that Fielder will win the American League MVP award. Though he's usually been the one in the No. 4 spot (behind Ryan Braun and Miguel Cabrera), Fielder said he's excited to hit in front of Beltre. New leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo's robust on-base percentage figures to help Fielder's counting stats as well, Fraley points out.
Adding Robinson Cano to their lineup was the start of many changes in Seattle, and Corey Hart turned out to be the next piece of their puzzle. Seattle today announced the signing of Hart to a one-year contract. Reportedly worth a guaranteed $6MM, Hart will have the opportunity to earn an additional $7MM via incentives. Hart is represented by CAA Sports.
Hart, 32 in March, missed the entire 2013 campaign after undergoing surgery on both knees. In his most recent healthy season, Hart delivered his typical brad of strong pop from the right side of the dish, batting .270/.334/.507 with 30 home runs. In the three seasons prior to his injury, Hart slashed .279/.343/.514 and averaged 29 homers per season, meaning his 2012 campaign was a good representation of his talent level when healthy.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports noted that, Hart will slot into the Mariners lineup behind Cano, adding some much-needed offense to a club that has struggled to score runs in recent seasons. The Mariners will likely use Hart in right field, notes Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Though he has proven to be a capable first baseman, the Mariners also acquired Logan Morrison from the Marlins at this week's Winter Meetings (in exchange for right-hander Carter Capps). Morrison could see more time at first base, though like Hart, he has experience in the outfield as well.
Hart and Morrison will provide new manager Lloyd McClendon with another pairing of new bats to add to the lineup behind Cano in an effort to bolster a lineup that finished the 2013 season 22nd among all Major League clubs in runs scored despite ranking second with 188 home runs.
USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports (on Twitter) that the Brewers were willing to offer Hart a contract that could reach $8MM after incentives. At one point, Hart had said he would take a discount to remain with Milwaukee, but his ties to Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik (Milwaukee's scouting director when Hart was drafted), the recent addition of Cano and his larger payday all could have factored into Hart's decision to head to the Pacific Northwest.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported that the agreement was in place (Twitter link). Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reported that Hart would be guaranteed $6MM with enough incentives to take him up to $13MM (also on Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.