By Shannon Drayer
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com was the first to report – and I have since confirmed with a baseball source – that the Mariners have agreed a one-year contract with former Brewers first baseman/outfielder Corey Hart. While terms have yet to be disclosed, there are reports that Hart turned down a one-year, $8 million offer from Milwaukee.
Corey Hart, who averaged 29 home runs from 2010-2012, gives the Mariners a much-needed right-handed bat. (AP)
Update: The Brewers’ offer to Hart is now believed to have been for one year and $4 million with $4 million in incentives. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is reporting that the Mariners’ deal is for one year with a $5 million base and worth up to $13 million with incentives.
Hart, 31, missed the entire 2013 season after suffering a knee injury in spring training. He has had two knee surgeries, but received full medical clearance to play earlier this month. His deal with Seattle is pending a physical, which will take place Friday.
Hart was drafted in the 11th round in 2000, when Jack Zduriencik was the Brewers’ scouting director. If healthy, he gives the Mariners something they’ve been seeking for a long time: a very good right-handed bat. His career OPS of .896 against lefties is better than anything Seattle has had since 2009, when Franklin Gutierrez put up a .963 OPS vs. southpaws and in 2008 when Adrian Beltre had a .994 OPS.
The moves keep coming as Greg Johns of MLB.com has confirmation that the Mariners have traded reliever Carter Capps for Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison. It will be interesting to see what happens next as Morrison has been suffering from knee problems of his own and was limited to playing first base last season.
It would initially appear that the Mariners are providing insurance for the possiblity of not being able to re-sign Kendrys Morales, or they are flat-out moving on from him. These moves take the pressure off in they are now not in a position where they have to make moves. Zduriencik is now in a better position for negotiating both with trades and free agents.
If they feel Morrison can play the outfield, then I would expect to see one of the current outfielders traded, most likely Dustin Ackley. Moving Justin Smoak could be an option, too, but I don’t believe that is the direction Zduriencik is going in.