Hot Stove Report: Brewers Prepare (Extend?) Free Agent Offer

The Hot Stove is wasting little time getting warmed up this year, at least in Milwaukee.

While Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has prepped media and fans alike to not hold great expectations about the available market of free agents, there is at least one name that everyone expects the Brewers to be in on. And that dance appears about ready to begin, if it hasn’t already.

He’s the man who didn’t play an inning of baseball for the Brewers in 2013, leading to a cavalcade of also-rans posting the worst combined OPS at their position this past season. Milwaukee first basemen — all seven(!) of them — posted a .211/.256/.359 slash line.

He’s also the man who, a source tells me, the Brewers are preparing to present an offer to. Not that this should come as a surprise, but if you haven’t figured it out by now, I am of course talking about Corey Hart.

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Because I mentioned the first basemen in Hart’s absence, for what it’s worth, Hart posted a slash line of .275/.339/.492 in 100 games as a first baseman in 2012. We’re not here to extol his virtues as a player, however.

I’m reporting, via a source (which is where information comes from whether you like it or not), that the Milwaukee Brewers either have extended an offer to Corey Hart for the 2014 season or are finalizing an offer to present soon. The uncertainly in the headline is because while my source says the offer has been presented to Hart’s representation, my source has been wrong about the timing of such formality before. What my source hasn’t been wrong about is the subjects of these free agent offer situations over the years.

Also, terms are always negotiable until a contract is signed, so I normally don’t discuss money even though that’s often passed along too. I will say though that the contract would be for one year with a discounted base salary, as expected. There will be a handful of incentives which could push the full value of the offered deal a touch higher than what Hart collected for his vigorous 2013 rehabilitation contract. The breakdown of those incentives was not readily available though it stands to reason that a tiered approach based on games played would make for a fair jumping off point.

Bottom line: Hart wants to stay with Milwaukee and he could fill a major need there. He offered to take a discounted salary and the Brewers are apparently willing to take him up on that offer. And if Hart plays well, he still gets paid. Now it’s up to Hart to decide if the offer was fair enough for him as currently constituted.

But make no mistake, if Hart is healthy (and can perform adequately) this scenario is perfect for Milwaukee. Get a good player at a good price who fills a huge hole. It would offer some payroll flexibility, but not much if he performs as desired. Though to be fair, that’s a problem both Melvin and principal owner Mark Attanasio would love to deal with.

And now the disclaimer of sorts: Hart has not signed with the Brewers or anybody else yet. This article in no way implies that he has nor does it imply that he definitely won’t sign elsewhere. He could sign somewhere other than Milwaukee. This is just a report about a contract offer scenario.

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