COMMENTARY | The Milwaukee Brewers might not wind up being very active this winter, but they know full well that first base is a position that needs an upgrade.
From Richie Sexson to Lyle Overbay to Prince Fielder, first base hasn't been a position of need for Milwaukee in more than a decade. Even after Fielder's departure, Corey Hart made a seamless transition from right field to first after Mat Gamel tore his ACL.
But with Hart and Gamel both shelved with season-ending knee injuries last season, a position that normally provides production and reliability was suddenly the most glaring weakness on the team.
Hart is now a free agent, but he's still a popular choice to return to the Brewers next season, especially after publicly stating he would take a hometown discount. Now, he appears to be preferred over the New York Mets' Ike Davis, another player Milwaukee has been linked to this offseason (via Jon Heyman of CBSSports).
Davis, 26, is coming off a season in which he hit just .205 and was demoted to Triple-A. Now the Mets, a team that also had its problems at first base, are actively looking for a trade partner.
Word is that the Brewers are willing to part ways with right fielder Norichika Aoki, who comes at a bargain considering his production and contract, or one of their outfield prospects. With the Mets having an excess at first base, Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin has hinted at New York being a potential trade partner (via Adam McCalvy of MLB.com).
The Mets have also shown interest in Hart, which should be an immediate red flag to Melvin. If they claim to have too many first basemen, then why would they feel the need to go after Hart?
A video released by Hart's agent has been making the rounds, and it shows Hart doing some drills and looking spry. He is coming off surgery on both of his knees, but, if Hart shows he is healthy, that could drive up interest as well as his price.
That video could be a big reason why, according to Heyman's report, that the Brewers are currently higher on the 31-year-old Hart.
Last season, Milwaukee brought in Juan Francisco after the Atlanta Braves lost interest in the corner infielder. Unfortunately, the Brewers saw first-hand why the Braves were perfectly content with shipping off Francisco.
Davis, while several years younger than Hart, is only a career .242 hitter and presents the Brewers with a near duplicate scenario. They would be wise not to jump again, especially if it means giving up a player like Aoki or Khris Davis.
There may still be questions about his knees, but it doesn't take an expert to see why Milwaukee would prefer Corey Hart over Ike Davis. It could come down to how much competition the Brewers face on the market for Hart's services -- and if he will stay true to his word.
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_.
- Sports & Recreation
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Prince Fielder
- Ike Davis