The Mariners made two acquisitions at the winter meetings in Orlando Wednesday, signing free agent 1B/OF Corey Hart from the Milwaukee Brewers and trading with the Florida Marlins for 1B/OF Logan Morrison. Hart’s signing, for a base of $5 million, was first reported by CBSSports.com, while the trade for Morrison was first reported by Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
Hart’s signing could cost the Mariners up to $13 million if he meets various incentives. Morrison cost the Mariners RHP Carter Capps, Seattle’s third-round pick in 2011. Since the Mariners plan to spread playing time at first base, left field and DH among Hart, Morrison and returnee Justin Smoak, the moves almost certainly mean the Mariners will not re-sign free agent Kendrys Morales, and perhaps Raul Ibanez as well.
The signings are also insurance against Smoak failing to take his game up a notch. Smoak hit 20 home runs last season, but has yet to blossom into the impact hitter the Mariners thought he would be when they acquired him in mid-2o10 from Texas.
The 31-year-old Hart, who agreed to a one-year deal, missed all of the 2013 season with a right knee injury. But in 2012, the two-time National League All-Star hit .270/.334/.507 with 35 doubles, 30 homers and 83 RBIs. Hart mostly played right field in his career but logged 103 games at first base in 2012. Due to his knee, he’s likely best at first base or DH.
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik drafted Hart in 2000 when Zduriencik was director of amateur scouting for the Brewers. The 6-foot-6 Hart made All-Star teams in 2008 and 2010. He’s a career .276 hitter who has twice belted 30+ homers in a season, 31 in 2010 and 30 in 2012.
Morrison, 26, has been mostly injured and ineffective the past two seasons, hitting .236 with a .708 OPS in 178 total games, but he has 25-homer power from the left side. Morrison was taken by the Marlins in the 22nd round of the 2005 amateur draft. He has played in only 363 games since his 2010 major league debut, batting .249 with 42 home runs, 23 of them in 2011.
Capps, 23, came to the Mariners as their third-round pick in 2011 and has struggled with a 5.04 ERA. Last year, he went 3-3 with a 5.49 ERA in 59.0 innings.