That goal failed to come to fruition.
The gap between the Brewers and the Seattle Mariners was simply too great, and Hart followed the money, reuniting with the man who drafted him back in 2000, Jack Zduriencik.
The Mariners have shown they aren't afraid to spend freely this winter, shelling out $240 million for second baseman Robinson Cano. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Seattle offered Hart a one-year deal with a base salary of $5 million and a chance to earn $13 million through incentives.
That was roughly $5 million more than the Brewers were willing to fork over, and that paired with the fact that Hart can DH in the American League didn't give Milwaukee much of a chance of competing with Seattle. He is expected to protect Cano in the Mariners' lineup next season.
The trade options at first base, which include Ike Davis of the New York Mets, Justin Smoak of the Seattle Mariners and Mitch Moreland of the Texas Rangers, aren't particularly desirable. Are any of those players truly worth giving up a prospect that could turn into something down the road?
As far as remaining free agent first basemen, the only player truly worth pursuing would be James Loney, who is coming off as season in which he hit .299 with 13 HRs and 75 RBIs with the Tampa Bay Rays.
However, the 29-year-old Loney would likely require a multi-year deal, unlike Hart, and even more guaranteed money as a result. Even so, Buster Olney of ESPN says the Brewers are now talking to Loney after losing out on Hart and making him their primary focus.
But it should be Corey Hart or bust for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Signing Hart would have been a dream scenario for various reasons. A one-year deal limits the risk of signing a player coming of multiple knee surgeries. If Hart returned like the player of old, his trade value would be high for a team that isn't expected to compete this season. And with Milwaukee doubtful that first-base prospect Hunter Morris is ready for The Show, it could have bridged the gap to Morris with Hart.
Alas, Hart is now a Seattle Mariner, and the Brewers should move forward with what they currently have at first base.
There's no use in continuing to block Morris' bath to the big leagues with Loney, who we remind you hit just .249 with 6 HRs two years ago, or anyone else for that matter. The Brewers are multiple years away from competing for a postseason berth, considering the crop of teams in the NL Central, so why overpay for a free agent or give up someone in return for a mediocre player?
Yes, it's no secret that first base was a debacle for Milwaukee last season. But considering what remains out there compared to the Brewers' existing options in house, a deal simply isn't worth it.
It's time for the Brewers to see what they have in Morris, who is 25 years old and had a .247/.310/.457 split with 24 HRs and 73 RBIs at Triple-A Nashville last season. If push comes to shove, Juan Francisco remains, who at least provided some production at first base despite an egregious strikeout rate, as does Sean Halton, who had his moments last season.
If the Brewers truly wanted a low-risk, high-reward option, they could consider a once highly coveted prospect -- free agent first baseman Mat Gamel. Before multiple ACL tears, Gamel had a .310/.372/.540 split with 28 HRs and 96 RBIs at Nashville in 2011.
But that ship has seemingly sailed, and while Gamel is just 28 years old, his production has yet to translate to the big league level.
Melvin made a strong push for Hart, but did the right thing by refusing to go too high. Now he should continue to do the right thing and stand pat at first base.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.
You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_.
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