Hart’s agent keeps talks close to vest

It’s becoming clear that Corey Hart’s agent is going to do his negotiating with interested teams — and there are several — instead of through the media.

That was the message in my brief chat with Jeff Berry of CAA Sports, who reiterated that there is significant mutual interest between Hart, a first-time free agent coming off a 2013 season lost to knee injuries, and the Brewers, who need a first baseman. Berry and Brewers GM Doug Melvin briefly crossed paths on Monday afternoon, Berry on hand for CAA client Roy Halladay’s retirement announcement, and Melvin for a subsequent press conference detailing MLB’s Stand Up to Cancer initiative. At some point this week, the two are expected to have a more formal discussion.

Here are the key questions: How many other clubs are interested in Hart, and are any of them willing to offer a deal beyond one year?

“I’m not going to get into any of that,” Berry said. “Look, Corey is their longest-tenured player and there’s a tremendous relationship between him and the Brewers. But I’ve said this all along, whatever happens has to make sense for both sides. The lines of communication [with the Brewers] are completely open.”

And that was that.

Hart is the Brewers’ top target to fill first base, a position they never adequately filled after he underwent knee surgeries in January and July. The team would like to see prospect Hunter Morris have a big year at Triple-A Nashville, where he experienced a bit of a drop-off in 2013 after a huge 2012 season at Double-A Huntsville. A one-year, incentive-laden deal with Hart would be ideal.

But will another suitor — the Rays, Red Sox and Rockies are among the clubs known to have checked in on Hart, though the Red Sox subsequently re-signed Mike Napoli, and the Rockies signed Justin Morneau — be willing to offer more than one year? How difficult would it be for the Brewers to match that? Melvin is scheduled to meet with reporters here at 3 p.m. CT, and hopefully he can provide some clues.

At the same time the Hart situation simmers, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reported that the Brewers had recently showed “renewed interest” in Mets first baseman Ike Davis, a player the sides reportedly discussed briefly last month at the General Managers Meetings. Davis will turn 27 in March after earning $3.125 million last season, and has three years of arbitration eligibility remaining.

Davis hit 32 home runs with 90 RBIs in 2012 but slumped so badly in 2013 he was demoted to Triple-A for a stretch. He batted .205 for the Mets with a .326 on-base percentage, nine home runs and 30 RBIs in 103 games.

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Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy

 

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