Mat Gamel got hurt and Taylor Green didn’t hit, so the Brewers turned to Corey Hart as Prince Fielder’s replacement at first base and … well, manager Ron Roenicke likes it a lot.
Hart had started just two career games at first base prior to this season–compared to nearly 7,000 innings as an outfielder–but he’s now logged 50 starts at the position while hitting well and if it’s up to Roenicke he’ll remain there long term.
“That’s [general manager] Doug [Melvin]’s decision but I’ve told Doug he’s a difference-maker at first base for me,” Roenicke told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Some because of the way he plays and some because he’s physically huge.”
Hart is 6-foot-6 and his defensive numbers in the outfield were never great, so the move makes sense as long as the Brewers have basically given up on Gamel returning from knee surgery to establish himself as a regular. Roenicke called Gamel’s situation an “issue” but considering he’s 27 years old and has never had more than 150 plate appearances in a season as a big leaguer … well, that’s an issue the Brewers can address if/when Gamel is healthy and hitting.
Hart has one more season and $10 million remaining on his contract and it looks like he’ll be spending it as a first baseman.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will opt out of his contract shortly after the World Series concludes. Cespedes, who earned $17.5 million for the 2016 season, has two years and $47.5 million remaining on his deal which includes an opt-out clause.
That Cespedes plans to opt out isn’t surprising as he’s almost certain to get a better contract entering a weak free agent market. He hit a terrific .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs and 86 RBI in 543 plate appearances for the Mets this past season.
It remains to be seen how the Mets will deal with potentially losing Cespedes. They can pick up a $13 million club option for Jay Bruce, but he performed terribly after joining the Mets in a trade from the Reds. The Mets could also go after free agents Jose Bautista or Mark Trumbo. Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto will handle the other two outfield positions.
Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that former Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant won the 2016 Hank Aaron Award in their respective leagues.
Ortiz, 40, flourished in his final season, batting .315/.401/.620 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI in 626 plate appearances during the regular season. His .620 slugging percentage, 1.021 OPS, and 48 doubles led the majors while his 127 RBI led the American League. Ortiz also won the Hank Aaron Award back in 2005.
Bryant, 24, is the likely winner of the National League Most Valuable Player Award as well. He hit .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI over 699 plate appearances. He also led the league by scoring 121 runs. Bryant is the first Cub to win the Hank Aaron Award since Aramis Ramirez in 2008.
Last year’s winners in the AL and NL, respectively, were Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper.