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Corey Hart Rumors
Corey Hart told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (Twitter link) that his agent has talked with the Brewers, Red Sox, Rays, and Rockies amongst other interested teams. Hart added that he won't officially get 100% medical clearance until December 3rd when he visits his doctor in Los Angeles, but he's fully healthy (link).
The CAA Sports client doesn't consider himself to be an injury prone player but admits that he's in a holding pattern until he's cleared physically, tweets Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter links). Hart says that he's dropped 20 pounds and that he should be able to run around better than he had the past few years, so he'll be open to playing in the outfield (link).
Also from Rosiak, Hart says that a winning team would be nice, but he's a family man first and will do what he feels is best for them. As MLB.com's Adam McCalvy points out in his transcript of Hart's interview, Harts and his family live in Arizona, which could factor into his decision. McCalvy notes that of the four teams mentioned by Hart, the Rockies and Brewers both have Spring Training facilities in the Phoenix area. The Spring Training facilities for Tampa Bay and Boston are each in Florida.
Hart last played in 2012, batting .270/.334/.507 with 30 homers, 35 doubles and four triples, illustrating why he can still be considered one of the most promising power bats on this year's free agent market even after missing the 2013 season.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
- Five or six teams have inquired about Davis and/or Lucas Duda, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports. Duda is considered by some AL teams to be a fit as a designated hitter, Carig tweets.
- Peralta appears to be the Mets' top free agent target, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. The club "really likes" Peralta but they don't know if he intends to sign soon or later in the offseason.
- The Mets have talked to free agent Corey Hart, but Martino gets the sense that they either don't identify him as a top target or aren't that eager to get a deal done with him. Carig (link) also hears from a source that the Mets aren't close to a deal with the Brewers first baseman. "We haven't discussed him in depth enough to say where we'd put him if we got him," the source said.
- The Mets have plans to meet with Curtis Granderson's agent this week, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post (on Twitter). The outfielder is turning down the Yankees' $14.1MM qualifying offer.
- The Mets have touched base with Marlon Byrd's representatives in the last few days, according to Carig (link). Recently, Steve Adams examined the market for Byrd and concluded that he could fetch a deal in the neighborhood of $16MM over two years.
- A source suggested to Carig (link) that it would make sense for the Mets to take their time in trading Davis and take advantage of a market that is starved for power. Carig (link) hears that the Mets might do just that and hang on to him until later in the offseason when teams will be seeking out less costly alternatives to add power.
- The Mets aren't actively talking to Mike Pelfrey about a possible reunion, but they are open to it, a team official tells Adam Rubin. "I know he is on a long list of guys just like him," the team insider said. The Mets non-tendered the hurler after he earned $5.7MM in 2012.
- The Mets' top priority is shortstop, but they're hardly alone in that, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Possible options for the Mets include Peralta, Erick Aybar, Didi Gregorius, Rafael Furcal, and Jed Lowrie.
The GM Meetings begin tomorrow in Orlando and run through Wednesday, but it could be a very quiet three days for the Brewers. "I don't anticipate us being overly active at this point but things could change," GM Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "There's not a lot of openings in the regular lineup." Budget constraints will also play a role in the Brewers' level of activity, according to Haudricourt, as the club is approximately $14MM under its 2013 Opening Day payroll (not including arbitration and pre-arbitration salaries). Here's more from Haudricourt's piece:
- "There's nothing major on the free-agent market we'll probably get involved with," Melvin said. "Maybe we'll do something with the bullpen, make an addition or two."
- Melvin sees first base as the one position the Brewers need to fill. Re-signing Corey Hart, who is drawing interest from the Mets and a handful of other teams, is the coventional wisdom, but Melvin has only committed to speaking with agent Jeff Berry about Hart's status at some point.
- The Brewers are not believed to have interest in Justin Morneau, James Loney, and/or Mike Napoli at this stage.
- If Hart doesn't re-sign with Milwaukee, one internal option is Juan Francisco, who is showing improvement offensively during Dominican Winter League play (.338/.437/.568 with 18 RBIs – second in the DWL – in 74 at-bats including a .404/.462/.702 slash with 14 RBIs versus left-handers in 47 at-bats, per MLB.com). At the least, Haudricourt sees Francisco providing depth at both infield corners (Francisco has split his time with Licey between third base and DH while appearing in just three games at first).
- Providing middle infield depth will be Elian Herrera, who the Brewers claimed off waivers from the Dodgers on Monday. "He's somebody who can play all over the field, including shortstop if we need it," said Melvin.
Here's the latest out of Queens..
- The Mets have already reached out to free agent reliever LaTroy Hawkins about returning, a baseball source tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Another unknown club has also gotten in touch with Hawkins, who served as the Mets' closer to finish the 2013 season. The 40-year-old posted a 2.93 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 70.2 innings of work last season.
- The Mets are one of a dozen teams that have reached out to veteran free agent Corey Hart, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link). MLBTR's Steve Adams sees Hart getting a one-year, $8MM pact with $2-4MM in incentives.
- In today's mailbag, a reader asks MLB.com's Anthony DiComo if Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo could be realistic options for the Mets. After speaking with a number of people both inside and outside the Mets organization, DiComo came away with the impression that no one expects GM Sandy Alderson to do anything of that magnitude.
Yesterday, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported the Indians were never close to giving Jose Dariel Abreu the kind of money he received from their intra-divisional rival, the White Sox. In other Tribe tidbits from Hoynes:
- Re-signing Matt Capps to a minor league deal is not an indication the Indians are going to part ways with closer Chris Perez. If tendered a contract by the Indians, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $9MM salary for the arbitration-eligible Perez. If Perez is traded or non-tendered, Hoynes names Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw as the best in-house replacements.
- Right-hander Jake Westbrook is definitely someone the Indians will keep an eye on this off-season, if healthy. The Cardinals are expected to decline their half of Westbrook's $9.5MM mutual option in favor of a $1MM buyout. The 36-year-old spent nine years in Cleveland before being acquired by the Cardinals at the 2010 Trade Deadline.
- Corey Hart is a tough fit for the Indians because his knee surgeries make it unlikely he can man the outfield and they already have Nick Swisher at first and Carlos Santana at DH. While the Indians have gambled on buy-low contracts for pitchers coming off an injury, Hoynes cannot recall such a deal for a position player. MLBTR's Steve Adams predicts the open market will bear a one-year, $8MM contract for Hart with an additional $2-4MM in incentives.
After converting to the Brewers' full-time first baseman midway through the 2012 campaign, Corey Hart was expected to miss the season's first month due to offseason microfracture surgery on his right knee. Setbacks in his recovery would end up pushing his return date back, and Hart would ultimately injure his other knee, leading to another surgery that cost Hart the entirety of the 2013 season. Hart is now set to hit free agency more than 12 months removed from his last Major League game.
Power is Hart's biggest asset when healthy. He's posted an ISO north of .225 each season from 2010-12, averaging 29 homers per season in each of those campaigns. In fact, dating back to 2010, the only free agents with an ISO greater than Hart's mark of .235 are Mike Napoli and Curtis Granderson.
While he's much better against left-handed pitching (as is the case with many right-handed sluggers), Hart still handles same-handed pitching quite well. From 2010-12, Hart posted an .822 OPS and 120 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers.
Hart will turn 32 years old next March, so while he's on the wrong side of his prime, he's young enough that there's no need to expect a sharp decline in his skills. Because he didn't play in 2013, he's not going to receive a qualifying offer and should only command a one-year deal on the free agent market. Hart offers as much raw power as nearly any free agent on the market, but will come at a fraction of the price in terms of years and dollars, without requiring a draft pick.
Hart was never an elite right fielder, but after a move to first base in 2012 and what has turned into a severe knee injury, his days in the outfield could be over. If that's the case, and Hart is limited to first base, he doesn't bring much in the way of defensive value. In his brief career at first, Hart has graded out as a poor defender.
Hart's power levels jumped in 2010, and he's been able to sustain those elevated levels, but it's come with an increased strikeout rate as well. Hart struck out in nearly 23 percent of his plate appearances from 2010-12, and he's never been one to take many walks (career 7.1 percent walk rate).
It's also no guarantee that Hart will come back as the same player he was in 2010-12. He's a buy-low candidate for teams in need of power, but should a contending team feel comfortable banking on Hart to hold down a spot in the middle of the order? The Rangers went a similar route with Lance Berkman this past offseason and received little return on that investment.
Corey is known as a strong family man. He and his wife, Kristina, have two daugters and two sons together. He has been active within the Wisconsin community, participating in charity funds for the Girl Scouts of Milwaukee Area, the Girls of Summer Softball League, the Wisconsin American Legion, Stomp Out Spit Tobacco, Make-A-Wish and more.
Hart has already said that he'd take a discount to return to Milwaukee — the team that drafted him in 2000 and the only organization that he has ever known. The matchup makes sense, too, given the Brewers' lack of a clear internal candidate to man the position. Milwaukee deployed a combination of Alex Gonzalez, Juan Francisco, Yuniesky Betancourt, Sean Halton and Blake Lalli at the position in 2013 and received a ghastly .211/.256/.359 batting line. The Brewers' collective wRC+ of 64 was the worst in all of baseball at first base, making a reunion with their longest-tenured player an attractive option.
Sticking in the midwest, the Twins lack an obvious first base candidate and could afford to take a flier on Hart. He'd be a nice trade chip for their rebuilding efforts should they sell pieces next July. The Indians could deploy Hart at first base and move Nick Swisher back to the outfield, moving Drew Stubbs into a fourth outfielder role. Elsewhere around the league, the Orioles, Mariners, Rangers, Red Sox, Rays, Mets, Pirates and Rockies all have uncertainty at first base/designated hitter. And with Jose Dariel Abreu now committed to the White Sox on a six-year deal, Hart's competition on the open market has decreased.
An incentive-laden one-year deal seems likely, and it makes sense for both Hart and his suitors. Interested teams aren't likely to be comfortable guaranteeing multiple years for Hart, and he's young enough to cash in on a strong season and earn a multiyear pact next winter.
Hart earned $10MM in 2013 but could have to take a pay cut. Berkman was able to land a $10MM base salary plus a $1MM buyout on his $12MM option for 2014, but he at least played in 32 games in 2012. Hart, on the other hand, never took the field and is coming off surgery on both knees, making the Berkman deal a lofty open-market goal for he and agent Jeff Berry of CAA.
His track record from 2010-12 is still strong though, and right-handed power is in scarce supply beyond Hart, Napoli, Byrd and Nelson Cruz. Ultimately, I think Hart could command a one-year, $8MM contract on the open market with another $2-4MM worth of incentives. If he's serious about taking a discount to stay with the Brewers, he may play for slightly less than that and settle for a $6MM base salary as a show of good faith to the only organization he's ever called home.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Corey Hart hasn't played a game for the Brewers this season but he hopes to make it up to them in 2014. The outfielder/first baseman says that his preference is to stay in Milwaukee when his contract expires after the season, and he is willing to take a pay cut to make that happen, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
"I told them I would be very generous to stay here. I wouldn’t sit there and ask for anything outlandish. I’d definitely take a discount to stay here because I think I owe it to them to stay here and be a cheaper player," Hart said. "Nobody wants to play for free but I basically sat there and watched all season. I owe it to them and the fans to come back at a cheaper price."
Hart has been sidelined for all of 2013 while undergoing surgery on both knees and even when taking the loyalty out of the equation, it didn't seem likely that he'd find a deal to match his $10MM salary from this season. While Hart has told the club "numerous times" that he wants to stay put, he has yet to have discussions about a new deal.
For his career, the 31-year-old owns a .276/.334/.491 slash line across nine seasons with two All-Star selections in 2008 and 2010.
The All-Star Futures Game demonstrated how strong the future of the shortstop position can be, writes Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. The World roster alone featured Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox, Francisco Lindor of the Indians and Carlos Correa of the Astros, leaving the Cubs' Javier Baez out in the cold. (Addison Russell of the Athletics started for the U.S. team.) There has been a bit of a void at the position since the heyday of Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra in the 1990s, Castrovince says. It's unclear whether the new group is good enough to yet again raise the bar for the position. "The more competition I have, the better it's going to make me," says Lindor. "I see Bogaerts got called up [to Triple-A], I see Correa's doing great, I see [Jurickson] Profar is in the big leagues, I see what Baez is doing, and I think that's awesome." Here are more notes from around baseball.
- The Indians are 51-44 through the first half of the season, and their best path to improving at the trade deadline and staying near the top in the AL Central is improving their bullpen, Bud Shaw of the Plain Dealer writes. Upgrading their shaky rotation will be tricky, since they can't justify trading a top-notch prospect like Lindor, particularly not for a rental player. Upgrading their bullpen, rather than their rotation, would allow them to keep Lindor and pitching prospect Danny Salazar.
- After having knee surgery, Corey Hart is now out for the season, and it's unclear what his future holds, reports Todd Rosiak of the Journal Sentinel. He's a free agent this offseason, and he'd like to stay with the Brewers. Due to the injury, it likely won't take a large financial commitment for Milwaukee to keep him. "I’ve talked to my agent. This is my home – I’ve been them almost half my life," says Hart. "I’d like to continue as long as they’ll let me. This might have been the silver lining to let me stay here – maybe a lower salary with incentives helps my case."
- The Red Sox appear unlikely to pursue Jonathan Papelbon of the Phillies as the trade deadline approaches, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets. Abraham cites both Papelbon's recent performance and his salary. Papelbon has a 2.33 ERA, but his strikeout rate (8.0 K/9) has dipped substantially this year, and his velocity is down a bit as well. He's still an effective reliever overall, but there's little doubt that his contract, which will earn him $13MM per year through 2015 with a vesting option for 2016, is worrisome.
Brewers first baseman Corey Hart has spent the whole season rehabbing a right knee injury, but he will undergo surgery on his left knee and miss the entire 2013 season, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
The news means that the Brewers, who will clearly be sellers at the deadline this season, will lose a player who could have been one of their primary trade chips. The Brewers could still dangle Yovani Gallardo, Aramis Ramirez, Norichika Aoki, Kyle Lohse and a number of other players, but Hart's .279/.343/.514 batting line and average of 29 homers per season from 2010-12 certainly would have been of their more desireable assets.
The move also have significant implications for Hart, who is eligible for free agency at the end of the season. Had he enjoyed a healthy season with similar production, Hart could have positioned himself for a four- or perhaps even five-year deal. Now, he's likely looking at a one-year deal to prove his health.
THURSDAY: Hart is likely to miss the rest of the season, sources tell Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. "We don't know yet," said Brewers GM Doug Melvin.
TUESDAY: There was a time when Brewers first baseman/right fielder Corey Hart looked like an extension candidate, or at least a trade candidate, but those ideas might be out the window due to a delayed recovery from January knee surgery. As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel explains, Hart once talked about a May season debut, but he suffered setbacks in recent workouts and still isn't close to a minor league rehab assignment. There's no talk of a timetable; a mid-July return after the All-Star break appears unlikely. Adds Haudricourt, "At this point, it's not completely out of the question that he will miss the entire season, though nobody is ready to say that yet."
The Brewers are clearly defined sellers this summer, and Hart could have been a primary asset since he's in his contract year and offers good power. But Hart won't be traded by the July 31st deadline, and the idea of moving him in August is speculation at best. He's earning $10MM and can block deals to 15 teams.
The Brewers weren't interested in extending Hart prior to the injury, he explained to Haudricourt, saying, "They weren't really open to talks beforehand so it's not like me having a bad knee affected it." Hart, who will play next season at age 32, averaged 29 home runs per year from 2010-12. Given the seriousness of his knee injury, Hart seems a candidate for a one-year free agent deal in the offseason.