Corey Hart free agency: Red Sox have contacted outfielder's agent

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

The Red Sox have been in contact with Corey Hart's agent. Could they be lining up the former Brewer to replace Mike Napoli?

Free agent outfielder Corey Hart says the Red Sox as well as the Rays, Rockies, and Brewers have contacted his agent, according to Jim Bowden.

The Red Sox have been actively trying to bring Mike Napoli back to Boston to play first base, but have met with some very real competition, with his market ending up clearly in multi-year territory despite a degenerative hip condition that held him to just a one-year deal last offseason.

Hart, then, would be a way for the Red Sox to get locked into a long-term contract at first. Coming off knee surgery that cost him the entirety of 2013, Hart would presumably receive only a make-good contract, much like Napoli had with the Red Sox in 2013.

That's a pretty low cost for a player who has the sort of numbers Hart has managed over the three years before his injury. Hart provided the Brewers with a 130 wRC+ over that period, producing 9.5 rWAR even with his defensive deficiencies.

The big problem with Hart is that the Red Sox really don't know what they'd be getting. He hasn't played since 2012, and actually managed to injure both knees in missing the 2013 season. If those knees are healthy, he could help replace Mike Napoli's bat without costing the Red Sox a serious financial commitment. That would even give the Red Sox another draft pick to work with when Napoli signs elsewhere. If he can't get back to what he was doing two-three years ago, though, the Sox are going to have to hope Mike Carp can make his 2013 magic work full-time.

Still, looking at those organizations Bowden named, the Red Sox can offer both a good salary for the year he would be here, and probably the best chance to contend. That makes him a very realistic target. And given how well he'd fit the low-risk, high-reward mold that this team has seen work so often before (Adrian Beltre and Stephen Drew being the most relevant examples here), they probably have to consider whether he's not just a better option than Napoli period.

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