Mariners sign Corey Hart to incentive-laden deal

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Corey Hart had an offer on the table to return to the Brewers following an injury wrecked season, but Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that he’s headed to the Mariners on a one-year deal.

Hart missed all of this year, so it’s hard to guess where he’s at physically, but during the previous three seasons he played 141 games per year while hitting .279 with an .857 OPS and an average of 29 homers. Even if he can return to 90 percent of that production in 2014 it’ll be a big pickup for Seattle, where he figures to bat behind $240 million man Robinson Cano in the revamped lineup.

And now the Brewers are definitely in the market for first base help.

UPDATE: Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times says Hart’s deal is worth $6 million in guaranteed money and up to $13 million total including incentives.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.

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Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.