Less than a week after signing Robinson Cano to a monster deal the Seattle Mariners have agreed to terms with free agent Corey Hart on a one-year contract and acquired Logan Morrison from the Miami Marlins. The moves give the Mariners some veteran depth and add some punch to their lineup at the same time.
Hart, 32 in March, had knee surgery on both of his knees last year and missed all of 2013. However, despite the injury, Hart has garnered a bit of interest with the Milwaukee Brewers and Mariners being his biggest suitors. He produced a .270/.334/.507 slash line in 2012 with the Brewers along with 30 home runs, 35 doubles and 91 runs scored. He owns a career slash line of .276/.334/.491 with 154 home runs, 211 doubles and 529 runs scored over 945 career games.
The Mariners will probably slide Hart into the fourth spot of the Mariners’ lineup, right behind Cano while playing either first base or right field. The Mariners do have Justin Smoak at first base but he has not produced as expected when he was traded for Cliff Lee.
Morrison, 26, saw his best season in 2011 when he smashed 23 home runs and 25 doubles while hitting .247/.330/.468. Since then, however, he hasn’t hit for great power and has dealt with injuries. The 2011 season was the only year he has appeared in more than 100 games.
The Mariners could use Morrison in the outfield, Hart as their primary DH to keep his knees healthy and Smoak as their first baseman. Smoak will need to have a breakout year in order to stay in the lineup and could find himself dangled as trade bait if the Mariners sign someone else. Of course, if Hart is used as the DH it could mean Jesus Montero’s future, if not behind the plate, could be murky.
The Mariners have a lot of similar players on their roster so perhaps they aren’t done dealing. They would like to add a pitcher and have been interested in acquiring David Price but so far nothing has come of it. It likely means the days of Kendrys Morales in a Mariner uniform are all but over as the free agent apparently was looking for more money than the Mariners were willing to give.
The Mariners are spending loads of money this winter in an effort to beef up their roster which has failed to develop younger talent and has struggled mightily in recent years. The additions of Hart and Morrison make the Mariners a better team but both have major injury concerns and, in Hart’s case, is likely a one and done type player as he will hit the free agent market in search of his last mega-deal of his career.
The additions work for the Mariners as they need to capitalize on Cano’s best years so they have a relatively small window for that as Cano is already 31-years-old. Whether or not these two new additions will be enough to put them over the top is another question but it does make the Mariners a better team overall.