The Boston Red Sox would like to re-sign Mike Napoli. However, Napoli has been getting a lot of interest on the free agent market and red Sox brass has been checking in on fallback options. Among those options is free agent Corey Hart.
Hart, 31, hasn’t played since 2012 due to two knee surgeries and won’t be cleared to play until December 3rd at the earliest. However, Hart has garnered a lot of interest from teams like the Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, Tampa Bay Rays and, of course the team he last played with, the Milwaukee Brewers. According to Hart during a radio interview, the Red Sox are among the teams that have reached out to his agent. There is good reason for the interest in Hart. His bat profiles as one of the better power bats on the market and won’t cost an arm and a leg to sign.
Hart hit .270/.334/.507 with 30 home runs and 35 doubles in 2012. He has hit at least 25 home runs in each of the last three seasons he has played. His right-handed bat would profile well in Fenway Park.
Napoli remains the number one target at first base for the Red Sox but GM Ben Cherington is doing his due diligence and investigating all options. Because of his knees, Hart now profiles almost exclusively as a first baseman and not an everyday outfielder.
The interest in Hart is consistent with Cherington’s philosophy regarding free agents. He looked for deals last season and took a chance on Mike Napoli who many teams were scared away from because of health issues. Cherington was able to get Napoli at a fair price and the result was a World Series victory. Perhaps Cherington thinks he can roll the dice again and come out on top. This time, though, he isn’t alone in that thinking mostly due to the success of the Napoli singing last offseason.
Teams are looking everywhere for bargains and deals in this poor free agent market. There is a noticeable drop off from the top three free agents and that has teams scrambling away from the inflated prices and towards the bargain bin. The problem is, Hart might command a salary above what bargain hunters will be willing to pay. Right now, it isn’t clear what exactly Hart is looking for. He might be searching for a multi-year deal or could sign a one-year make-good contract in hopes of reestablishing his value.
Right now, Hart is probably a fallback option. The Red Sox want Napoli back and are trying to get a deal done. However, some of the same teams that are interested in Napoli are also interested in Hart as a fallback option which could mean if the Red Sox want him they might have to spend some money. It will be interesting to see who the Red Sox get to play first base as they defend their World Series victory.