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Corey Hart: Cubs Free Agent Target?

Should the Cubs be interested in the former Brewers outfielder/first baseman?

Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

Some people here (I'm looking at you, elgato) have proposed that the Cubs go after Corey Hart, who has been with the Milwaukee Brewers his entire career.

Hart was not extended a qualifying offer by the Brewers -- no surprise, really, after he missed the entire 2013 season with knee injuries.

I was in favor of the Cubs trying to acquire Hart back in 2006 when the Brewers didn't seem to know what to do with him. But after he became a regular in 2007, he hit .277/.335/.495 (118 OPS+) with 143 home runs in 836 games from 2007-2012, averaging 33 doubles, 24 HR and 83 RBI per season.

The knee injuries are worrisome, especially with Hart turning 32 next March. The linked article above says:

During a September visit to Miller Park, Hart suggested he was "optimistic" about re-signing with Milwaukee and said he would be "generous," but stopped short of providing financial parameters.

"I would take a discount to stay here, because I think I owe it to them to stay here and be a cheaper player, because -- nobody wants to play for free -- but I've basically sat there and watched all season," Hart said then. "I think I owe it to them and the fans to come back. That's kind of what we're hoping for, but at the same time, you don't know what's going to happen."

At the time, Hart was just shy of getting clearance to begin running. He underwent right knee surgery in January to repair a depression on the joint surface, then needed a similar procedure on the left knee in July for an injury that developed during rehab.

So it sounds like he'd listen to offers, but the Cubs might have to come in a bit higher than the Brewers to entice him to leave Milwaukee. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman made some predictions about what free agents will sign for, along with an agent and a GM, and here's what he says about Hart:

1B Corey Hart: Has talent and tools; could be good for a multiyear deal, even off a knee injury (though the agent and GM don't think so). Agent: 1 year, $6M. GM: 1 year, $8M. Me: 2 years, $14M.

I think I'd be willing to do a one-year deal with a vesting option that would take it to a two-year, $14 million contract if Hart met incentives; that way, if he's healthy and plays regularly, it'd be a two-year deal. Hart could play some left field, and back up Anthony Rizzo at first base. The Cubs didn't have a real backup 1B in 2013, and after Cody Ransom was let go, they didn't have any backup 1B.

Incidentally, Heyman's article says this about Dioner Navarro:

C Dioner Navarro: Had big season on North Side of Chicago, so should get big raise. Agent: 2 years, $6.2M. GM: 1 year, $5M. Me: 2 years, $10M.

I think if you could get Navarro for two years and maybe $8.5 or $9 million total, you do it and keep him as a "backup" for Welington Castillo -- and he wasn't really a "backup" in 2013, as he played in 89 games with 266 plate appearances.

All right, your turn. What do you think?