Corey Hart Rumors

Quick Hits: Shortstops, Indians, Hart, Papelbon

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.

Corey Hart To Undergo Season-Ending Surgery

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.


Latest On Corey Hart

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.



Central Notes: Gallardo, Twins, White Sox

The Royals made this a special Father's Day for 21 dads as the team invited the players' fathers to travel with them on their current road trip to Tampa and Cleveland. Dick Kaegel of MLB.com reports the idea was the brainstorm of the Royals' senior director of travel Jeff Davenport, who borrowed the idea from NHL teams, and was approved quickly by GM Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost. The idea came as a shock to some of the dads including the father of infielder Elliot Johnson, Robert. "Elliot told me about it and I had to call him back three times to make sure I got this story right — I said, 'You've got to be kidding me. All I have to do is get to Kansas City and they're going to put me on a plane and fly me along with you and not charge me anything? And I'm going to get in a hotel and eat with you guys and hang out with you?" The trip hasn't been without incident. Robert Johnson admitted he had an argument with Hall of Famer and new Royals batting coach George Brett over – what else – Elliot's hitting. In other news and notes from MLB's Central divisions: 

  • After struggling for most of the season, Yovani Gallardo has now tossed 14 consecutive scoreless innings. With the Brewers in last place and Gallardo controlled affordably through 2015 ($11.25MM in 2014 and a 2015 club option worth $13MM), the right-hander's name has popped up as a trade candidate (including by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes two weeks ago) and he has heard the talk. "We'll see what happens," Gallardo told reporters including MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. "It's definitely a little bit different. It's the first time I've been in a situation like this — not to say that anything is going to happen." McCalvy reports Gallardo can block trades to ten teams, but Gallardo acknowledges even he doesn't know the identity of all of them. 
  • While the Brewers don't anticipate Corey Hart returning from offseason knee surgery until after the All-Star break, at the earliest, GM Doug Melvin will not rush first base prospect Hunter Morris to the Majors, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Melvin told Haudricourt service time considerations aren't part of the decision-making process, "He needs to play more at Triple-A. We just want to make sure he's ready before making a move like that." The Brewers entered the weekend last in the NL at first base with a .493 OPS and 14th with four home runs and a .275 slugging percentage.
  • Twins GM Terry Ryan told Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau, and Kevin Correia will be the most asked about players as the Trade Deadline approaches (Twitter link).
  • Twins closer Glen Perkins will also be sought after by teams looking to bolster their bullpen, including the division rival Tigers. Ryan, however, told Bowden he has not had any conversations with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and would rather have Perkins pitch for him than against him (Twitter link).
  • Yesterday, the White Sox announced the signing of seventh-round draft choice Trey Michalczewski. Today, Jim Callis of Baseball America tweeted the prep third baseman will receive a $500K bonus, which is $323.4K above the recommended slot (per Baseball America). 

NL Central Notes: Hart, Choo, Arroyo, Cardinals

Brewers GM Doug Melvin indirectly shed some light on the philosophical differences which led to trading Brett Lawrie to the Blue Jays. Lawrie's name came up when Melvin told Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the plan is to keep second base prospect Scooter Gennett in Triple-A for the full season instead of being promoted because of the struggles of Rickie Weeks. "The plan worked for (Prince) Fielder and Corey Hart and all those guys," Melvin said. "Spend your time at each level. That's the part I couldn't get through with Brett Lawrie. He wanted to go past everybody. That model works if you're a freak like Ryan Braun, but he did play at every level. I always say to go out and prove you're too good for the league. If you do that, we'll consider moving you up." Instead Melvin, moved Lawrie out to Toronto. In other news from the the NL Central:

  • Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told reporters, including MLB.com's Adam McCalvy, there is no plan to send Corey Hart, recovering from right knee surgery, on a minor league rehab assignment before June 1. This means Hart, who is eligible to be activated from the 60-day disabled list on May 30, will not join the Brewers until mid-June, at the earliest. 
  • The number of years and not money will be the issue for the Reds in trying to re-sign Shin-Soo Choo, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Choo ranks second on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.
  • If Choo does re-sign with Cincinnati, a payroll casualty could be Bronson Arroyo. In a second tweet, Fay says the Reds' payroll is a big puzzle and there are lots of factors involved in trying to retain both Choo and Arroyo.
  • Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch opines merit is not behind the Cardinals' decision to replace the injured Jaime Garcia with fellow left-hander Tyler Lyons, but a desire to delay the service clock of their top pitching prospect, Michael Wacha. This is the second time Wacha, owner of an 1.89 ERA in eight Triple-A starts, has been bypassed to fill a rotation opening. Miklasz further believes the Cardinals, owners of the best record in the National League, don't have the best 25 players in their system on the active roster citing top prospect Oscar Taveras toiling away in Triple-A while Shane Robinson and Ty Wigginton are struggling offensively. 
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak disagrees with Miklasz's assessment. "I’m not worried about the clock," Mozeliak was quoted as saying by the Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold (via Sulia). "The media is making a lot of the clock. Other people who read the media are making more of it. To me it’s like that’s not what is making our decisions. It’s managing our decisions for what’s best for the club and what’s best for the individuals in their own silo of development."
  • Chris Carpenter is continuing to make progress in his recovery from nerve trouble in his neck and back soreness and could make a rehab start in early June, Goold reports. "I’m not going to push myself back," Carpenter said (as quoted by Goold on Sulia). "I’m going to make sure that I’m healthy and that I know everything is going to work and that I can go out there and take that grind of the amount of pitches and innings it takes to go the rest of the year." Carpenter threw three simulated innings Saturday, will throw a side session Monday, and throw another four simulated innings Thursday, according to MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch and Chad Thornburg.

Central Notes: Garza, Tigers, Hart, Royals

Cubs manager Dale Sveum told reporters, including MLB.com's Carrie Muskat, that Matt Garza will most likely miss the first month of the season. Garza, ranked ninth on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings and one of the prime trade targets last summer until he hurt his elbow, strained his left lat two weeks ago when he faced live hitters for the first time since July. In other news involving teams from the NL and AL Central Divisions:


Brewers Notes: Lohse, Rotation, Mat Gamel

Today, the Brewers are hosting Brewers On Deck, their annual winter fan festival. Here's the news being made at the event:

  • Owner Mark Attanasio says there's always a chance the Brewers could enter the bidding for free agent starter Kyle Lohse, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. "It’s a function of size of contract, length of contract." Attanasio said. "Kyle had a phenomenal two seasons the last two seasons. We just have to see if that fits in our overall scheme." Attanasio refused to specifically say if the team has spoken with Scott Boras, Lohse's agent.
  • Manager Ron Roenicke indicated Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada are locks for the starting rotation leaving Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta, Mark Rogers, and Chris Narveson vying for the other three spots, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Roenicke questioned whether Narveson, who underwent rotator cuff surgery last May on his throwing shoulder, will be ready for camp; but, assistant GM Gord Ash said everything is great with the left-hander and he is not behind schedule, reports Haudricourt
  • Roenicke touted the team’s rotation depth, arguing the five starters at the beginning of the season don’t have to be the same five at the end, writes McCalvy. Roenicke referred to options like recently signed free agent reliever Tom Gorzelanny, who has experience as a starter, and prospects Tyler Thornburg and Hiram Burgos.
  • Earlier today, we learned the Brewers are seeking first basemen in light of Corey Hart's knee surgery on Friday, which will force him to miss the first two months of the season. Mat Gamel, Hart's replacement, himself underwent knee surgery last May. Assistant GM Gord Ash said Gamel was examined today and "he is ready to go," Haudricourt tweeted
  • Melvin did say he is talking to a couple of free agent infielders, reports McCalvy on Twitter. Haudricourt opines it sounds like shortstop Alex Gonzalez is still in play (Twitter link). Gonzalez played 24 games for the Brewers in 2012 before his season was cut short by knee surgery.
  • The Brewers will lose the only catchers on their 40-man roster, Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado, to the World Baseball Classic. Haudricourt stumped Roenicke when he asked the manager about the catching depth chart. "Don't ask me that question because I don't know," said Roenicke. "I want a guy that's going to be with us to be working with these (pitchers), to get them locked in. We're not going to have our two guys there talking to them all the time. So it's going to be difficult. There isn't (an obvious No. 3 catcher)." The Brewers will have five non-roster catchers in camp who have a combined six games of big league experience.

Brewers Have Considered Trading Hart

Thursday, 7:41am: One obstacle in trading Hart is the limited no-trade clause his contract contains, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Hart prefers his Spring Training to take place in Arizona, so it's safe to assume he can block trades to all teams whose Spring facilities are in Florida.

Wednesday, 2:12pm: The Brewers aren't actively looking to trade Hart and would have to be overwhelmed to make a deal, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

1:36pm: The Brewers have considered the idea of trading Corey Hart, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Such a deal would free up money for pitching, since Milwaukee can't afford to go big on a pitcher right now without another move.

As we've heard throughout the Winter Meetings, the Brewers are reluctant to commit to more than a two-year deal for a veteran starter, which has them at an impasse in talks with Ryan Dempster. One report yesterday suggested that, while Milwaukee continues to search for a starter and a reliever, the team doesn't have the financial flexibility to pursue an Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse type. Perhaps that could change if the Brewers decide to move Hart, but guys like Sanchez and Lohse would still require a lengthy commitment.

Brewers GM Doug Melvin had told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel yesterday that he was undecided on whether the team would pursue a contract extension for Hart, whose deal is set to expire next winter.


NL Central Notes: Jones, Pirates, Parra, Hart

Let's round up the latest items out of the NL Central, which, like the rest of baseball's divisions, now features just five teams….


Quick Hits: Giants, Affeldt, Hart, Tigers, Soriano

The 4pm CST deadline for players to accept qualifying offers has come and gone and none of the eight players in play opted to return to their respective clubs for a $13.3MM salary in 2013.  That means that Nick Swisher, Hiroki Kuroda, Rafael Soriano, B.J. Upton, Adam LaRoche, Michael Bourn, Josh Hamilton, and Kyle Lohse will net their teams a compensatory pick if they sign elsewhere.  Here's the latest from around baseball..

  • The Giants are confident that they will be re-signing Jeremy Affeldt and the club believes that they will work out a three-year deal, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.  GM Brian Sabean indicated yesterday that he is optimistic about being about to keep Affeldt, Angel Pagan, and Marco Scutaro.
  • Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter) that he has not approached Corey Hart's agent about an extension and doesn't have immediate plans to do so.  A report earlier today suggested that the Brewers and Hart were discussing a deal to keep him beyond 2013.  The first baseman/right fielder is set to earn $10MM next season.
  • The Tigers aren't interested in Soriano and plan to stay in-house to find their closer, tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.  Right-hander Bruce Rondon, 21, will get a chance at the job.