With the uncertainty that is the first base position, one has to wonder if the cards are aligned for the Milwaukee Brewers and Corey Hart to become united again. At the end of the season, Hart will be a free-agent, something he was hoping he could expand on in 2013, but to no avail, he has been out for the season because of his knees.
That said, should the Brewers give Hart one more go at first base in Milwaukee?
The first reaction most fans would give might be somewhat of a lukewarm response. While fans value Hart’s time in Milwaukee, the 31 year-old isn’t getting any younger and has knees that seem incredibly fragile. Looking at this issue from both ends of the spectrum, it wouldn’t make much sense for a team to re-sign a guy who missed a season due to both knees going out on him. Then again, he’s a reliable hitter that you know can fill the void at first base, which has been occupied by a number of players this season. Of course, that’s the devil’s advocate’s point of view on Hart.
Realistically, there aren’t many options the Brewers have for first base aside from Hart. Sure, the Juan Francisco experiment has had its ups and downs, but beyond Francisco, there’s not a whole lot. Mat Gamel is currently missing his second season in a row due to tearing his same ACL again, Yuniesky Betancourt isn’t even close to being someone worth calling a long-term option and Hunter Morris doesn’t have any major league experience. The line for first basemen in Milwaukee is running incredibly thin and all season has been put up to a test with Hart and Gamel out.
It’s not that re-signing Hart is necessarily a bad idea, but if general manager Doug Melvin goes along with the plan, then it has to be one hand-crafted carefully. Maybe they re-sign Hart for a one-year deal with a second-year option, should he decide to take it. In that time, they should prep Morris for the majors in Spring Training and have him back-up Hart at first during the 2014 season. Gamel just hasn’t had the luck flow his way to have that position anymore and Francisco is only a roadblock in Morris’ way. This way, the Brewers will still have that much needed bat in the line-up while they groom Morris for his eventual role.
A lot of fans think though that Hart has played his final games as a Brewer and that re-signing him would be a mistake. While his salary certainly was a bit bloated for the small market Milwaukee team, getting him on a one-year deal for cheap, especially considering his injuries, will lower his price. With any team, the asking price that Hart would have originally had is now shattered because of his injuries this season.
So the Brewers have two options after 2013’s season comes to and end, re-sign Hart or let him walk straight into free agency. Neither option is the “right” or “wrong” one, but they should at least consider signing him for cheap. After all, with the mess that has befallen the Brewers’ this season, Hart’s bat could help drive in more runners instead of having them stranded.