Brewers, Hart still at a stalemate

Just landed in sunny Phoenix, where I hope to broker peace between the Brewers and arbitration-eligible outfielder Corey Hart. They appear to need all the help they can get right now.

Here’s some of a story I just filed:

PHOENIX — Asked whether there was anything new to report on negotiations between the Brewers and arbitration-eligible outfielder Corey Hart, one of the team’s top officials gave a short-and-sweet response.

“Not a thing,” assistant general manager Gord Ash said on Friday afternoon.

That’s not a good sign for the Brewers, who have not gone to an arbitration hearing with a player since general manager Doug Melvin took over in the fall of 2002. That could change on Wednesday, when the team faces a hearing with Hart.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Brewers made their latest offer to Hart and his agent, Jeff Berry, on Friday and it was rejected. Hart, who is arbitration-eligible for the first time, is seeking $3.8 million for 2009 and the Brewers countered at $2.7 million.

If the sides cannot reach a compromise, Hart’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, a few miles away from the site of the Brewers’ first full-squad workout at Maryvale Baseball Park.

An interesting test case could be heard on Tuesday, when the Dodgers and outfielder Andre Ethier are scheduled for a hearing. The Dodgers face the same $1.1 million gap with Ethier as the Brewers do with Hart, and Either is somewhat comparable to Hart, with a better career batting average but slightly lower home run and RBI totals.  

Ethier asked for $3.75 million and the club offered $2.65 million.

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