(1090 The Fan) — So far this offseason, the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies have all shown significant interest in signing first baseman and corner outfielder Corey Hart. Though nothing has been publicized, leaked, etc from Seattle, you can’t help but think Hart is on the Mariners’ radar.
Despite the slugger missing all of 2013 because of surgery to a damaged knee, Hart is still relatively young (turns 32 in March) and had been consistently hitting for power while with the Milwaukee Brewers. The two-time All-Star got 25 MVP votes in 2010 — a year where his line was .283/.340./.525 and he racked up 31 home runs and 102 RBIs. In 2012, he was a .300 hitter against left-handed pitching.*
In the five seasons in which he played 140 games or more, he averaged roughly 26 home runs and 84 RBIs. By comparison, Kendrys Morales — who isn’t technically out of the picture (yet) — led the Mariners with 80 RBIs in 2013; Raul Ibanez — who likely won’t be coming back — led the team with 29 home runs.
A one-year deal in the ballpark of $7M-$10M would be a low-risk, high-reward for the Mariners, who are desperately trying to fill out a lineup card with some pop. Inserting the threat of Hart’s power into the mix could be a way to prevent the blossoming Kyle Seager from being pitched around now that Seager is getting attention around the league.
The Mariners should have an edge when it comes to providing Hart with incentives. In Seattle, Hart would most likely play everyday, whereas in Boston he likely would not. In Seattle, Hart could fill-in as a designated hitter, in Colorado, he could not.
When it comes to trying to beat out Tampa in a negotiation, things get tougher. The Rays are a winning franchise and like the Mariners, could use Hart in many different ways.
However, Hart has said that being close to home is something that could affect his decision on where he plays in 2014. The combination of Hart and his family living in Arizona and the Mariners spending their Spring Training in Peoria could make a difference in the negotiating process — especially for a one-year deal.
*Stats provided by sports-reference.com
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