Why the Brewers Should Bring Corey Hart Back for 2014
While many people believe that minor league prospect Hunter Morris should be the Brewers 2014 first baseman, I’m not completely sold on him. He is currently playing at triple-A Nashville and owns a .236 batting average and a .321 on base percentage. Morris broke big league camp for the first time in 2013 and did not look ready to play on a major league team. His struggles could have stemmed from nerves, or maybe he’s just not ready yet. Maybe he never will be. We’ve seen prospects have big success in the minor leagues and then fail miserably at the major league level. A prime example is Matt LaPorta, who was traded by the Brewers to the Cleveland Indians as part of the CC Sabathia deal in 2008. At the time, he was one of the top prospects in the organization and was expected to do great things. Now, five years later, he is back in Cleveland’s minor league system. Technically, he’s out injured right now, but when he comes back, he will be assigned to triple-A Columbus. I’m not saying that Hunter Morris will fail too; I just don’t think that he is major league ready yet.
Let’s face it; the Brewers don’t have many options at first base for next year. It’s been a struggle this year. The Brewers have had 2 shortstops (Yuniesky Betancourt, Alex Gonzalez) and a third baseman (Juan Francisco) pick up most of the playing time at first base. We have even seen both of our catchers play first base. At some point, I’m half expecting the Brewers to hold a promotion to allow a fan to come out and play first base for an inning. As far as next year is concerned, there really aren’t many players with the ability to play first base who would be major league ready by opening day 2014, so unless they want to allow Yuniesky Betancourt play first base again (dear goodness, please no), the Brewers are going to have to sign someone for next year. It wouldn’t be out of the question to see them call up Hunter Morris, but again, I’m not confident that he is going to be ready yet by next year. Mat Gamel is eligible for arbitration next season, but I don’t think we will ever see him back in a Brewers uniform. He had a shot to be the everyday first baseman last year, but he ended up undergoing season ending surgery last May after tearing his ACL in San Diego. He then re-tore the same ligament in spring training this year and had to have the same procedure done, ending his season before it even started.
Obviously, Corey Hart is injured right now and it was that injury that halted rumored extension talks between him and the Brewers last offseason. Hart has said multiple times that he wants to sign an extension with the Brewers, but with his frequent trips to the DL, an extension beyond one year is a pretty big risk for any team to commit to. Hart has produced in the past, so if he can stay healthy, he is a great player to have on the team. However, his ability to stay healthy is the biggest question mark right now. This year he is making $10.3MM. Bringing him back on a one or possibly even a two year deal would be risky, but if Hart can come back in the second half of the season and show that he is still a good player, it could be worth it. If the Brewers fall out of the race early next year, they can always use him as trade bait. He would have more trade value next season (assuming he comes back and is able to play during the first half of the 2014 season), so that could be an incentive to re-sign him. I think it’s in the club’s best interest to bring him back for at least one more season, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.