The Hart of the Matter

hart
So, the Rangers now have Prince Fielder in their employ, in addition to already having first baseman Mitch Moreland on the roster still. There is question as to what to do with Mitch Moreland, since Prince is expected to remain durable and start at first base. Moreland could, technically, move to left field and stay with the team; however, I’m not sure anyone wants to pretend there isn’t an established injury history with Moreland now. As much as there is to like about Moreland’s bat (when healthy) and Gentry’s speed and fielding, the Rangers would probably be well served to talk to free agent OF/1B Corey Hart. 
Hart sat out all of 2013 after undergoing reconstructive surgeries on both of his knees. He has, however, received a good preliminary analysis of his recovery and will look to get a 100% green light on December 3, when he visits with doctors in Los Angeles. If he is ready to go, he has a lot to offer a team like the Rangers, who are looking to round out some finally line up edges. 

His last three seasons featured 3 consecutive .500+ SLG percentages, the highest marks in that category in his 9 year career. *Read: he’s a better left field candidate than a questionable Mitch Moreland and a non-slugging Craig Gentry. Hart and Gentry are both at least close to/right at above average in OBP; Hart is at a career .334 OBP & Gentry is at a career .355 OBP. Gentry does have the ability to leg out infield singles, but Hart’s slugging most likely compensates for that. 2013 did see Moreland with his highest home run total in 3 seasons (23 HR), but Hart clocked in at 31/26/30 in his last three active seasons. With Prince hopefully mashing and Beltre able to stay healthy, that kind of mashing potential in left field would be a great addition to the lineup and to an outfield that is speedy but not known for slugging baseballs. 


One question that remains is whether Hart can gain shrink his strike zone, gain some patience, and get his K rate (20% career rate) down a few points. That being said, Moreland’s patience seems to fluctuate and Gentry seems to be called on to bunt and run more than actually try to take walks. Hart would stand be a slugging upgrade that may provide the outfield with some slugging ability that it may otherwise lack with Gentry as the starter; plus, he would most certainly still be able to contribute as a DH when needed as well. 


Hart was primarily an outfielder when coming up with the Brewers. He only started playing 1B to help cover for injuries at the position in 2012. His fielding has always just above average as an outfielder, but he did break out a bit in 2012 at first base. He played most of his time in right field, much like Gentry was mostly accustomed to center field; both guys would be out of “position” next season, but could most likely present Wash with equal options to use defensively. He adjusted well defensively to first base in 2012, which also helps present a good option for spelling Prince Fielder occasionally. 


If the Rangers choose to go after Corey Hart, he stands to offer some significant upgrades over starting Craig Gentry in the outfield. I’m sure you’re all left with one big question: how much?! His last deal with Milwaukee was 3 years and $26.5mil, or $8.6mil a season. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him try to pursue something similar, even though he is approaching his age 32 season. I could see a two year deal for around the $8mil per year mark, with an option for a third season, being what it takes to land Mr. Hart. It’d be a bit of a gamble, but one that the Rangers could possibly take and win with in 2014. 


Oh, and if you’re worried about someone having awesome hair (a la Mitch’s mane in 2013), Mr. Hart is capable of that as well. Check this action out. #want
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Danny Wild, MLB Photos
Sarah Powers is a Staff Writer for ShutDowninning.com. She can be reached at sarah.powers@shutdowninning.com or on Twitter @Power_Play86.
Sarah Powers

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