Corey Hart Rumors
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.
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....
- The Pirates made an attempt to land pitching prospect Taijuan Walker in a deal for Garrett Jones, but were rebuffed by the Mariners, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel adds the Pirates to the list of teams with interest in Manny Parra (Twitter link).
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin remains undecided on whether the team will pursue a contract extension for Corey Hart, writes Haudricourt. Melvin, who typically works out extensions in the spring, told Haudricourt that a Hart extension isn't something the club would address at the Winter Meetings.
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.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke with agents and rival executives about where Josh Hamilton might land and the Nationals, Phillies, Mariners, and Orioles often came up in conversation. The Phillies would appear to be a stretch for both financial and baseball reasons, but two industry sources say the club is quietly checking in on him. It was reported earlier this week that the O's are targeting Hamilton but Rosenthal would be surprised if owner Peter Angelos, who emphasizes that his GMs find him players with a history of good conduct, can be talked into it. Here's more from Rosenthal..
- The Brewers are discussing a new deal with first baseman/right fielder Corey Hart. The 30-year-old is seeking a three-year extension but the Brewers might prefer to give him two more years while increasing his 2013 salary. Hart is under contract for one more season at $10MM.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean expressed confidence that the team would re-sign free agents Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro, and Jeremy Affeldt. Meanwhile, sources say that other teams are more aggressive than the Giants on Pagan right now.
- It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Indians trade Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Chris Perez, and Justin Masterson, all of whom have two or fewer years of control remaining. However, catcher/first baseman Carlos Santana, signed for four more years, is more likely to stay.
The Milwaukee Brewers experienced a roller coaster season in 2012 marked by injuries, blown saves, and being 12 games under .500 on August 20 before embarking on a 24-6 run that boosted them back into the Wild Card race until being eliminated on the final weekend of the season. Club officials say everyone feels better about the state of the franchise heading into the offseason. But, how will that shape the winter for the Brewers? Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel discussed that topic and other issues in a recent online chat with fans. Here are the highlights:
- GM Doug Melvin will be looking to add a veteran to the starting rotation and Haudricourt named Ryan Dempster, Edwin Jackson, and Kyle Lohse as possibilities. A fan suggested Brandon McCarthy and Haudricourt acknowledged the Brewers will perform their due diligence, but any addition will only be made if the pitcher is affordable, the right fit, and wants to come to Milwaukee.
- Haudricourt anticipates the Brewers signing a free agent starting pitcher is a more likely scenario than trading for one because the club has some payroll flexibility and they've already traded away a lot of prospects for pitching in recent years.
- Don't look for the Brewers to deal Corey Hart or Rickie Weeks to create more payroll flexibility. Haudricourt would be surprised if Hart, entering the final year of his contract with a 2013 salary of $10 MM, is traded despite the presence of Southern League MVP Hunter Morris. Weeks, due a guaranteed $21MM over the next two seasons, should also be safe, Haudricourt theorized, because the Brewers have enough money coming off the books to not have to worry about his salary.
- Haudricourt expects the payroll be less in 2013 than the $100 million-plus of this year, a spending level that should put the franchise in the red for 2012.
- Expect Nyjer Morgan to be non-tendered. It was obvious, Haudricourt opined, that Morgan was being phased out and having made $2.3MM and eligible for arbitration again, he probably will be replaced by Logan Schafer, a less expensive option who is considered a better defender. Haudricourt did praise Morgan for conducting himself professionally and never popping off or openly complaining about his decrease in playing time.
- Haudricourt listed some minor league prospects who took a big step this year and that fans should keep an eye on next season, including the aforementioned Morris.
The Brewers continue their push for the second NL Wild Card spot as they look to win their series against Mets this afternoon at Miller Park. However, they will have to do so without Corey Hart. Hart has been sidelined for the last six games since he partially tore the plantar fascia, the connective tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot, in his left foot a week ago. Hart did running drills this morning, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MLB.com's Adam McCalvy, and all did not go well. Hart, who was able to run in a straight line but suffered discomfort when making stops and turns, said, "It’s a little frustrating. Today was the first day I tried to run the bases, and it didn’t go as planned.” Elsewhere from the NL Central:
- The Cardinals, currently tied with the Dodgers for the final NL Wild Card berth, may receive a boost from Chris Carpenter, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Carpenter threw a 90-pitch simulated game yesterday and manager Mike Matheny suggested only a poor recovery from the session could derail his return to the active roster sometime next week.
- In a separate piece, Strauss suggests the 2013 Cardinals will look remarkably similar to this year's version.
- The Pirates can blame their second-half swoon on their pitching, writes John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times. The Pirates have shaken up their rotation by replacing James McDonald with Kyle McPherson.
- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters, including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Biertempfel, the team will not be going to a six-man rotation. Hurdle informed Jeff Karstens today management wants to see the right-hander work out of the bullpen before considering putting him back into the rotation.
A few notes from the NL Central to pass along ...
- Brewers outfielder/first baseman Corey Hart told Milwaukee he'd like to remain with the team beyond his current contract, which expires after next season, and is willing to play whichever position he is needed at most, writes Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. Hart, slated to make $10MM in 2013, also said that if the interest in keeping him in Milwaukee is mutual, potential extension talks would be best reserved for the offseason.
- Brewers right-hander Shaun Marcum, an impending free agent, is nearing a return from the disabled list and understands that he is auditioning for the 29 other Major League teams, McCalvy writes. He also notes that Marcum and the Brewers have not engaged in extension talks.
- The Cubs announced that they have transferred right-hander Matt Garza to the 60-day disabled list, and though his DL stint will expire before the end of the regular season, manager Dale Sveum added that Garza's been "shut down," according to Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com. Ending the season on the DL won't be good for Garza's trade value, but GM Jed Hoyer has said that the right-hander will be part of the team's 2013 rotation.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said he recently sent scouts to look at Roger Clemens and Scott Kazmir of the independent-league Sugar Land Skeeters, according to the Associated Press. Clemens is rumored to be mulling a return to the Majors.
- The Pirates have moved Kevin Correia to the bullpen to make room for Wandy Rodriguez in the rotation and Correia isn't thrilled about it, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Angels could be interested in acquiring the California native, who says that he hopes to get back to being a starter.
- As it stands now, Greinke is scheduled to pitch against the Nationals on Sunday, but Nats skipper Davey Johnson doesn't expect to see the right-hander on the hill, writes Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. "I'd be real surprised," Johnson said. "I know in the past if a ballclub's intent on making a move, you're not going to pitch him two days before the deadline."
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com handicaps the most likely destinations for Greinke and the Rangers top the list with 9-5 odds. The Red Sox are categorized as a longshot with 100-1 odds.
- Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter) believes that someone will bite on the Pirates' Kevin Correia as he is owed just $1MM for the rest of the year. The Bucs are reportedly sending signals that they could part with Correia after acquiring Wandy Rodriguez.
- Teams have expressed interest in Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. However, the Brewers would be have to be overwhelmed to trade either player.
- Brewers relievers Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Veras, Manny Parra and Kameron Loe had been drawing interest, but their value “tanked” following a poor showing in Philadelphia this week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow suggested to Rosenthal that absorbing salary can help Houston obtain better prospects in trades. “In this environment, you’re limited in how much money you can spend on the draft, how much you can spend internationally,” Luhnow said, referring to the rules regulating amateur spending in baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement.
- Pitching prospect Shelby Miller is available in trade talks, yet the Cardinals don't appear anxious to make an impact deal, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (on Twitter).
Zach Links contributed to this post.
In today's Insider-only blog post, ESPN's Buster Olney compares the current state of the trade market to shopping at an airport, where priced are designed to gouge customers. Buyers want more sellers and sellers want more buyers. Olney also previewed the NL trade market, so let's dive in...
- The Mets are among teams looking for bullpen help and are waiting for the market develop. The division-rival Nationals are also in the market for relief help but do have Drew Storen on the mend. Olney wonders if they'll look for a starter given Stephen Strasburg's inning limit.
- Executives expect the Padres to deal Carlos Quentin and Huston Street, plus they continue to get calls about Chase Headley. Olney speculates that the Reds could be a fit for Quentin.
- The Braves are looking to add a veteran starting pitcher, but Olney says they're unlikely to swing a trade for Zack Greinke without having some kind of long-term contract agreement in place.
- Olney wonders if the Diamondbacks could become surprise buyers for pitching help given Joe Saunders' injury and Trevor Bauer's early struggles. The Cardinals figure to jump into the pitching market given Chris Carpenter's season-ending shoulder surgery.
- The Cubs, Astros, and Rockies are among the clubs in sell mode. The Brewers will wait a little longer before deciding to sell, and while Greinke, Shaun Marcum, and others could be on the block, Corey Hart will not.
- Olney says the Blue Jays actually finished third in the bidding for Yu Darvish behind the Rangers and Cubs. No bid was within $35MM of the $51.7MM Texas submitted.
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.