This latest rumor comes to us from Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune...
#Rays appear to be getting serious about #Brewers' Corey Hart. TB has pitching to trade with Futures starter Jeremy Hellickson ready.
You can take "appear to be serious" as you may, but color me intrigued. Some will see this report and take it as Hart for Hellickson, but I don't think that is what Mr. Rogers (pun indented) means. It means that because of Hellickson's readiness, the Rays have a number of options - namely, pitching options - to choose from in their pursuit of a bat. As for Hart, he is definitely is a good player, and one we covered in our Trade Handbook.
10. Corey Hart - OF
- Rest of Season Salary: $2.4M
- Rest of Season Projection:.353 wOBA, 7.3 wRAA (~0.7 offensive WAR)
- Contract Status: Eligible for final year of arbitration after 2010 season.
- Notes:This isn't a perfect fit, but bear with me here. Hart is a good offensive player that is having a power surge this season (17 HRs already) and is suffering from some bad luck with balls in play (.259 BABIP). He's a player built in the mold that the Rays like - fast, aggressive, good command of the zone - and he's relatively cheap this season and would provide the Rays with OF/DH depth over the next two seasons. However, it does seem silly to be acquiring another outfielder when we already have Joyce and Jennings waiting for roster spots, and Hart is not a great defender (career -11.3 UZR in the outfield). I see him as a back-up plan if nothing else works out.
Since the handbook went live, Hart has hit three more home runs giving him 20 on the season. His BABIP has also rebounded in recent weeks. After posting BABIPs of .368 in June and .414 so far in July, his 2010 number now sits at .312 - or right in the neighborhood of his .307 career BABIP. With a slash line of .289/.351/.565 and a .389 wOBA, his value may be at it's highest point.
The danger in acquiring a player who is possibly at, or nearing, his peak is falling into the the trap of giving up too much. In their current standing, the Rays are in position to overpay for talent, but not by much. Perhaps the difference between winning 95 games and 96 games will never be more important than it is in 2010. While I am okay with giving up something valuable for Hart's services, I am also wary of falling for the allure. I'm pretty sure Andrew Friedman is as well.