Even after missing the entire 2013 season, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman/outfielder Corey Hart feels optimistic that he can work out a deal that will keep him in Milwaukee for at least another year. MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports that Hart has announced his willingness to take a lower salary to re-sign with the Brewers.
Hart will become a free agent after this season ends. He spent the year on the 60-day disabled list recovering from surgery to repair both of his knees. He had his right knee operated on back in January, and initial indications were that he could return to the lineup for the second half of the season, maybe even before then. However, another injury required surgery on his left knee in July, ending his chances to play this year.
Hart stated his willingness to take a pay cut to stay with the only Major League team for which he has played since his 2004 debut. He became a full-time player in 2007 and has averaged .277/.335/.495, 24 HR, 78 RBI, and 13 SB per year through 2012. Regarding salary, Hart has progressed each year from league minimum to $10 million this year.
McCalvy quoted Hart about Hart's pending free agency and willingness to take a pay cut to stay with the Brewers. Said Hart,
"I've told them I would be very generous to stay here. I wouldn't sit there and ask for anything that is outlandish. I would take a discount to stay here, because I think I owe it to them to stay here and be a cheaper player, because -- nobody wants to play for free -- but I've basically sat there and watched all season. I think I owe it to them and the fans to come back. That's kind of what we're hoping for, but at the same time, you don't know what's going to happen."
That type of loyalty (plus Hart's track record) deserves strong consideration from Brewers general manager Doug Melvin. Fans could easily understand his making less after missing a full season to two knee operations, but they could also appreciate his willingness to stay for less. A rebuilding team needs the experience, leadership, and production that Hart can provide. Perhaps a one- or two-year deal is in order if the two sides can work it out. Hart has also stated that he feels like the decision is more Melvin's than his own.
McCalvy also tells us that Hart could begin running soon and make it back into baseball shape as early as November. McCalvy says that team doctors told the 32-year-old Hart that "he will make a full recovery and could play 5-6 more years if he chooses." Whether or not he plays those years in Milwaukee is yet to be seen.
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