Hart says he followed more than money to Seattle

Corey Hart expected his first foray into free agency to be agonizing. Instead, it was easy, and three months later he has no regrets.

Not even about the day last September when he said he would take less money to stay in Milwaukee, only to sign for big money in Seattle.

“I would have taken less,” Hart insisted Wednesday before the Brewers and Mariners played at Peoria Sports Complex. “But I wasn’t going to — I still wanted it to be kind of close. In the long run, it wasn’t really close at all.”

Hart, coming off a season lost entirely to double knee surgery, signed a one-year contract with the Mariners that guarantees $6 million and offers $7 million more in incentives.

Brewers GM Doug Melvin could only offer $2 million guaranteed, with incentives that could push Hart to the same $6 million he was guaranteed in Seattle $4 million guaranteed, plus $2.5 million in incentives that could push Hart just above the guaranteed money in Seattle. For a father of four, it was a no-brainer.

“I even talked to Doug, and he basically said, ‘I couldn’t turn that down, so why would you be expected to?’” Hart said. “They understood there was a huge gap. It was one of those things where I would have liked to stay if it was close, but in the long run it wasn’t that close, and they weren’t pushing like these guys were. There were a lot of things that could have gone different, I guess, but they didn’t, and I’m glad to be here.”

What could have gone differently? Hart suggested that the Brewers could have made a much stronger emotional push to keep him. Melvin made it clear that he wanted Hart back, and manager Ron Roenicke, third base coach Ed Sedar and hitting coach Johnny Narron all called to urge Hart to consider returning.

But his teammates mostly stayed silent, Hart said.

“I’m sure when we see each other there will be a lot of hugs. But that’s about it,” Hart said. “I think I was expecting more players to reach out and try to keep me. A lot of the coaches reached out. But these guys [the Mariners] were overwhelming. We had a few other teams that were right there too. I thought Milwaukee would have made it harder, but at the end of it, it wasn’t a tough decision.”

More of Hart’s comments will appear on Brewers.com later today. He is over in Minor League camp today getting as many as a dozen at-bats, so those former Brewers teammates will not get a chance to say hello.

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Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy

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