Mariners add Hart, LoMo to cap Meetings
Seattle signs former Brewers All-Star, deals Capps to Miami for Morrison
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik came to the Winter Meetings this week looking to back up the blockbuster addition of Robinson Cano with some additional offensive punch. And that delivery came swiftly in back-to-back moves within minutes Wednesday that will bring power-hitting outfielder/first basemen Corey Hart and Logan Morrison to Seattle.
Though the Mariners won't announce either acquisition until physical exams are complete, multiple baseball sources confirmed Seattle outbid the Brewers for their free agent, Hart, with an incentive-laden one-year deal and then traded reliever Carter Capps to the Marlins for Morrison on the final full afternoon of the Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort.
The Mariners had already agreed to a 10-year, $240 million deal with Cano that is expected to be finalized and announced at a Thursday afternoon news conference in Seattle, with most of the club's top officials heading back to the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday night for those festivities, as only the Rule 5 Draft remains on the table Thursday at the Winter Meetings.
Zduriencik checked off a couple boxes on his wish lift before his departure, adding a needed right-handed bat in Hart as well as another offensive threat with intriguing potential in the 26-year-old Morrison.
Hart's contract, according to sources, will pay him $6 million in base salary, with the potential of another $7 million in bonuses.
"I can't get into specifics right now," Hart said in a text response to MLB.com, "but this was a family decision based on a lot of factors. The Mariners showed they were sincerely interested and made a strong push. And I get a chance to DH some while still having Spring Training in Arizona near home."
Morrison is arbitration-eligible for the first time this year and won't be a free agent until 2017. He became available after the Marlins signed free-agent first baseman Garrett Jones to a two-year deal.
"Obviously, I knew it was going to happen once they signed Garrett," Morrison told MLB.com. "It's a little shocking, any time you go through a major change in your life. [The Marlins are] the only thing I've ever known, professional baseball-wise. Any time you go through a change, it's definitely going to take some time to get used to. I'm looking forward to the opportunity I'm going into."
Though Zduriencik said he'll continue talking with clubs and agents, the latest moves are likely the culmination of the offensive makeover as they give the Mariners two players with some pop that they feel can split time between the corner-outfield spots and designated hitter, while also backing up Justin Smoak at first base.
Both Hart and Morrison have had knee problems in the past, but Hart -- who missed all of last season after microfracture surgeries on each knee -- has been working out well recently and Morrison is now a year removed from two surgeries to repair his own right patellar tendon.
"The pending deals that appear to be there would give us flexibility," Zduriencik said. "It doesn't mean that anyone on this club is going to get moved. What it does do is add to our depth, if these deals come to fruition. And that's a good thing. When you have depth, you have more options and that's the position we're in and that's a very good position."
Hart, 31, hit 30 home runs and recorded 83 RBIs while transitioning from right field to first base in 2012 for the Brewers before being sidelined. Morrison, 26, came up with the Marlins as an outfielder, but was limited to first-base duties last year.
Morrison is a left-handed hitter who launched 23 home runs with 72 RBIs in 2011 before his knee problems limited his playing time and production the past two seasons.
Hart underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee in January to repair a depression on the joint surface, and he then needed a similar procedure on the left knee in July for an injury that developed during his rehab.
Hart, 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds, is a career .276 hitter and was a two-time National League All-Star (2008 and '10) in nine years with the Brewers, who drafted him while Zduriencik headed that team's scouting department. Hart averaged 29 home runs and 83 RBIs in his last three seasons before sitting out last year.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Morrison hit .242/.333/.375 with six home runs and 36 RBIs in 85 games last year while playing strictly at first base.
One of baseball's top-rated prospects coming up with the Marlins, Morrison played outfield his first three seasons in the Majors, but had knee surgery first in December 2011 and then again in September 2012 that limited his mobility last year.
Capps, 23, was one of several hard-throwing young right-handers in the Mariners' organization, but he struggled with a 5.49 ERA in 53 relief appearances last year in his first extensive time in the Majors.
Zduriencik dealt from a position of organizational strength there, with several other power arms coming up and Stephen Pryor expected to return from an elbow injury sometime near the start of the regular season.
"The nice thing about our bullpen is we do have a lot of nice young arms," Zduriencik said. "If we were to give up one, then you could look at [Logan] Bawcom, who we like, Carson Smith, [Dominic] Leone, [Chance] Ruffin we hope, and it depends on what happens with [Hector] Noesi.
"Who knows what other options will present themselves as we move forward? I think there are low-risk deals that you can take on a guy that's coming off a bad year or an injury and you invite them to Spring Training with a chance to make the club."