Corey Hart Rumors

Central Notes: Luhnow, Hart, Braun, Zumaya

Some links from baseball's Central Divisions for your Sunday reading…

  • New Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow has the right outlook, but very few pieces to work with, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. One scout told Heyman that aside from Carlos Lee, only two players in the Astros' projected lineup have a chance to be even league-average hitters: Jason Castro and Chris Johnson.
  • Corey Hart has torn cartilage in his knee that will require arthroscopic surgery and sideline him for three-to-four weeks, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said they won't rush Hart back like they did from an oblique injury that cost him his 2011 Spring Training, and that Hart will likely open the season on the disabled list.
  • MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner told Haudricourt that the leak in Ryan Braun's positive drug test was an isolated, case-specific incident and that the process doesn't have a confidentiality problem.
  • Joel Zumaya has opted for Tommy John surgery, writes MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger. Dr James Andrews will perform the operation at the end of March, and the Twins have yet to decide if they'll place Zumaya on the 60-day DL or release him, assistant GM Rob Antony told Bollinger.

Quick Hits: White Sox, Guerrero, Gonzalez, Hart

By this time tomorrow, we'll know whether the Rangers were able to work out a deal with Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish. In the meantime, here are tonight's links…


Melvin On Brewers’ Offseason

The Brewers’ season is over and while GM Doug Melvin wishes his club were in the World Series, he’s proud of its accomplishments. "There's just too many good things that happened this year for me to be hanging my head,” he said, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Here are more details from today’s press conference via Haudricourt:

  • Melvin and Brewers owner Mark Attanasio will meet in early November to discuss what kind of offer they can make free agent first baseman Prince Fielder.
  • The Brewers aren’t concerned about Shaun Marcum’s health, though the right-hander struggled in the postseason.
  • Melvin said Yuniesky Betancourt was “a better player than what his critics said.” The Brewers have a $6MM option ($2MM buyout) for the shortstop in 2012 and Melvin declined to say whether they'll pick it up.
  • Melvin explained that he would like to improve defensively without sacrificing on offense.
  • He said the Brewers will seriously consider giving Mat Gamel a chance to make an impact in the Major Leagues if an opportunity emerges (i.e. Fielder signs elsewhere).
  • The Brewers haven’t talked about moving Corey Hart to first base.
  • Melvin said he’ll check in with free agents LaTroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito. Francisco Rodriguez is likely to sign elsewhere, probably as a closer.
  • Melvin said Casey McGehee can still be a good player, despite his disappointing 2011 campaign.
  • Craig Counsell hasn’t told the Brewers whether he intends to play again next year, but it sounds as though Melvin would have some interest in re-signing him. Melvin also expects to speak to Jerry Hairston Jr. and his representative.
  • Mitch Stetter, Manny Parra and Josh Wilson are non-tender candidates, as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explained this week.


Cafardo’s Latest: Fielder, Nathan, Hart, Mauer

One major league source told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that a lot of lefty relievers were blocked by teams and never got through waivers in August.  The price tag on most of them was steep so most teams bit the bullet and decided to go with what they had.  The Giants were one of those clubs as GM Brian Sabean opted to stick with Javy Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt.  Here are some other highlights from Cafardo's column..

  • The Mariners re-upped GM Jack Zduriencik this week and Cafardo wonders if Seattle will be in the mix with Prince Fielder this offseason, even though they already have Justin Smoak at first.  It's hard to predict how much the M's will be willing to spend and it's possible that the four-year, $36MM deal given to Chone Figgins in December 2009 could make ownership gun-shy.
  • The Twins didn’t seem to have anything major working for Joe Nathan at the deadline, but they asked him to waive his trade-veto rights just in case and Nathan declined.  Nathan's future with the club is uncertain as he heads into free agency but he has a shot at staying if he accepts a hometown discount.  It's unlikely that the Twins will pick up his $12MM option this winter.  The club can buy him out for just $2MM.
  • Cafardo writes that Brewers rightfielder Corey Hart would fit nicely with the Red Sox.  However, it seems likely that they'll lose Fielder this summer so they probably won't entertain a deal involving Hart. 
  • Twins GM Bill Smith says that Joe Mauer will be a catcher for the foreseeable future, but he continues to leave the door open for a possible shift of positions down the road.  There are also no plans for the Giants to move Buster Posey elsewhere, according to Sabean.

Brewers Extend Corey Hart Through 2013

The Brewers announced today that they've extended right fielder Corey Hart through 2013.  ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the extension is worth $26.5MM.  The contract covers Hart's final arbitration season and two free agent years.  Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets the details: a $1MM signing bonus, $6.5MM in 2011, $9MM in '12, and $10MM in '13 plus a limited no-trade clause.

Hart wasn't far from being a non-tender candidate after a disappointing 2009 season.  The Brewers retained him but lost an arbitration hearing regarding his 2010 salary ($4.8MM).  Hart bounced back in a big way, making the All-Star team and posting a .288/.346/.565 line so far.  He's tied for sixth in the NL with 23 home runs.  His name was a rumor mill staple last month until a wrist injury sidelined him, though GM Doug Melvin implied today that discussions did not get to a serious stage.  Just yesterday Hart talked about his desire for an extension; it turns out assistant GM Gord Ash had been hammering out the deal over the past week or so with Hart's agent Jeff Berry.

Also in Hart's service time class: Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks, who are under team control through 2011.


Hart Wants Contract Extension

Corey Hart is going public with his desire for a contract extension in Milwaukee, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.  Hart, who has been with the Brewers for his entire major league career, remained with the club after being linked to the Giants in the weeks leading up to the deadline.

Hart will be under club control through 2011, but says that he wants to stay with the club for longer:

"They know that," the two-time All-Star said. "I think, obviously, there are different variables. They have to figure out what to do with Prince [Fielder] and whether I'm part of what their long-term [plan] is."

As McCalvy points out, the Brewers haven't had an easy time negotiating with Hart's agent Jeff Berry in the past.  Their most recent duel resulted in the two sides going to arbitration over Hart's contract following the 2009 season.  Berry's client won the hearing, the Brewers' first since 1998.

After flirting with dealing Hart at the deadline, one has to wonder if Milwaukee will look to deal him in the offseason rather than lock him up long-term.


Giants Still Active

2:56pm: It doesn't look like anything will happen with the Giants and Hart, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

2:28pm: Lots of familiar names still in play for the Giants, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, including perhaps Corey Hart again.

2:17pm: The Diamondbacks, Giants, and Blue Jays have discussed a three-way deal, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  For the moment I'll leave the speculation to the commenters, but we know the Giants like Kelly Johnson from Arizona as well as Jays relievers and Jose Bautista.  The Jays have had interest in Johnson as well.


Fielder & Hart Are Off The Market

The Brewers have decided that they’re too close to contention to sell, according to ESPN.com's Keith Law. An executive from a club that had interest in a Brewers player explained to Law that Milwaukee has changed its approach to Saturday's deadline. That means Prince Fielder and Corey Hart are no longer available to teams seeking power bats.

The Brewers are 48-55, 9.0 games behind the Reds and even further behind in the Wild Card race. They have a 0.33% chance of making the playoffs in 2010, according to Baseball Prospectus' postseason odds report.

The Brewers didn't make progress with the Giants in their talks about Fielder and Hart, partly because of the wrist injury that has sidelined Hart since Friday. Both players are under team control for 2011, so the Brewers can reignite trade talks after the season.


Giants Not Making Progress With Brewers

The Giants are still actively looking for an impact bat, but discussions about Brewers sluggers Corey Hart and Prince Fielder are "dead in the water," according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.  That's not a surprise, since Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on Twitter that the Brewers plan to hold off on trades until tomorrow at the earliest. Hart has an injured right wrist, so the Brewers aren't likely to deal him until he proves his ability to hit.

Injuries to Hart and David DeJesus have not derailed the Giants' search for a bat. They have been connected to Jose Guillen, Josh Willingham, Scott Podsednik and Adam Dunn in the last 24 hours.  The asking price for Dunn?  Madison Bumgarner, says Schulman. 

GM Brian Sabean is also interested in adding relief help, though the market is tough at this point.  Schulman says the Giants are "investigating" Seattle's Brandon League.


Olney’s Latest: Tigers, Hart, Sheets

Injuries could play a part in increasing trading before Saturday's deadline, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider link). With a handful of teams, most notably the Tigers, seeing key players head to the disabled list, many clubs' needs are in flux. Detroit, for instance, had been focusing on acquiring a starting pitcher, but with Brandon Inge, Carlos Guillen, and Magglio Ordonez all recently placed on the DL, the team may need to look into bats as well. Here are the other highlights of Olney's column:

  • If the Tigers pursue an outfielder, they could ask about Jayson Werth, Jose Guillen, or Jeff Francoeur. Dave Dombrowski has said he won't trade top prospects for rental players though, according to this tweet by Tom Gage of the Detroit News.
  • Corey Hart's hand injury doesn't appear serious, but one GM tells Olney: "If [the Brewers] are going to get anything in a trade, he's got to play before the deadline and show he's healthy."
  • Scouts had noticed a dip in Ben Sheets' velocity and less use of his breaking ball before the right-hander hit the DL with elbow trouble. Olney notes that Oakland's "Matt Holliday plan" has been a bust in Sheets' case, since his injury means they're stuck with him.
  • Olney hears from a GM that there's "a lot of conversation about a lot of players" happening right now, meaning we could see a flurry of trade activity this week.