Houston Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and owner Jim Crane have both indicated their willingness to spend money this off season. Their indicated areas of concern were the rotation, bullpen and the outfield, where a power bat is needed. It’s a pretty decent free agent market with a lot of big-name guys reaching the end of their contracts, but the guy the Astros may want to target is a guy that didn’t even play in 2013.
Corey Hart missed the entire 2013 season following a knee surgery, and his contract with the Milwaukee Brewers also happens to be up going into 2014, so he will be a highly sought-after name on the market. He’s hit 25 home runs or more in the past three season prior to the surgery, and his RBI totals fluctuate between 60-100. He does all of that while maintaining a .270-plus average — so the Astros may have found their answer.
Hart still strikes out a good amount, but again, if the Astros were that concerned with strikeouts, they would have started making changes long ago. Hart is only 31-years old and coming off the injury, he can probably be signed for cheaper than he’s worth. He made $9 million in 2012 and $10 million in 2013, so he’s definitely in the Astros’ price range.
It would even be feasible to breach $12 million for the powerful righty, especially given the deep pockets that the Astros have suddenly accumulated with the massive budget cuts.
The slugging Hart also plays first base, so he’s just about a perfect a fit as can be found on the free agent market for the Astros, whose problems at first base and lack of power are well documented. Hart even has some speed, though not as much as when he was younger. Still, his athleticism is undeniable.
The prospect of having Robbie Grossman, George Springer and Hart patrolling the outfield is tantalizing, but what’s better is that it’s very possible.
While James Loney could potentially solve the first base and strikeout problems of the Astros, Hart could solve the first base, right field and power numbers, so either name would be an attractive signing for the Astros.