Hart tells Brewers he wants to spend career in Milwaukee
Apparently the trade rumors that surfaced with Corey Hart's name this trade deadline left Corey worried he'd be shipped somehwere else, so he took the initiative and had his agent tell Doug Melvin and the Brewers that he wants to stay a Brewer for life.
In doing so, he'll likely take a decent sized pay cut. Prior to his move to first base this season, the player most comparable to Hart was Andre Ethier and Ethier just recieved a five-year, $85 million contract. But the Brewers are unlikely to commit that kind of money to Hart or for an OF.
But in his message to management, Hart also let it be known that he was ok with a permanent move to first base. That changes his pay scale, but it also lessens his value a bit, since his record there is new and unproven.
Moving Hart to first base permanently leaves the Brewers in the situation of what to do with Mat Gamel, as well. They moved him to first base and the transition wasn't easy. They've invested quite a bit of time in him and he wouldn't likely fetch a lot of money or prospects on the market because he's so unproven in the majors.
I like Corey Hart. I like him at first base a lot (especially in comparison to his lack of defensive range in RF) but I just can't imagine commiting in the range of $17 million a year to him. Good lord, Ryan Braun only makes $20 million a year, you know?
There's something to be said for Hart being the longest tenured Brewer and for keeping the homegrown talent on the team, but there's a point where sentimentality can't overtake sensibility.
Melvin and the Brewers need to think long term. Ryan Braun makes about $20 million a year in the coming years. Add Hart's $17 million to that and you're talking almost $40 million on just two players (and essentially putting Hart on par with Braun, which I find ridiculous). And then you have to look at what other players will be eligible for free agency in those years. The most pressing is Yovani Gallardo. Gallardo will need to be signed before 2015. Presumably he'd get double digits in a contract, meaning you're talking about paying in the range of $50 million dollars to just three players on the roster.
The Brewers payroll is just over $100 million this season and though that will continue to grow slightly each year, that mean's your talking about spending half the team's payroll on three players. That doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room for other players or free agent signings. It certainly wouldn't allow for them to pick up a guy like Aramis Ramirez, who's contract averages at $12 million a year. (Not Ramirez specifcally, but in this scenario, they likely don't have the cash to make a move like that)
Hart has said that money isn't everything, but I'm not sure that even a $5 million a season "hometown discount" really makes that much of a difference in this scenario.