It seems the Yankees are being linked to just about every high-priced free agent still left on the market. Whether it's simply posturing or genuine interest, the Yankees should be careful to not just spend their time in the priciest aisles of the store. There can be potential bargains to be had as long as you don't mind the players being a little old or a bit dinged up. One player that falls into that latter category is slugger Corey Hart, who missed the entire 2013 season.
A Milwaukee Brewer his entire career, Hart will be entering his age-32 season in 2014. Prior to 2012, Hart had been a mainstay in the Brewers' outfield and the middle of their order. He never graded out particularly well as an outfielder and was transitioned into playing the majority of his games at first in 2012. A right knee injury at the tail end of that season that required microfracture surgery was followed by an injury to his left knee during his rehab that required its own surgery that cost him all of 2013. So at this point any chance for a return to the outfield seems remote. In fact, Hart still has yet to be 100 percent cleared by his doctor.
Hart's calling card has always been his power bat. For his career he has a 117 wRC+, which is primarily due to his career .491 slugging percentage. In the best stretch of his career to date, Hart amassed a total of 87 home runs from 2010-2012. A right-handed hitter, Hart could go a long way toward balancing a Yankees lineup that seems to struggle year-in and year-out with lefty pitchers. Considering his injury history, the cost for Hart would seem to be a one year incentive-laden deal. The market for his services could be quite competitive, especially as the more prominent free agents get scooped up.
As the Yankees seem to be zeroing in on Carlos Beltran to make him their next big signing, the idea of Hart as a power-hitting alternative has been floated. While Beltran has his own knee-related concerns, he has played the outfield for the majority of the last two years. Not well mind you, but he has still managed to be out there more often than not. Hart's future looks only to be as a 1B/DH, and a player with Hart's history being insurance for a recovering Mark Teixeira seems like a real risky proposition. Even with the much higher asking price, I would consider Beltran the better fit for the Yankees. But I would consider a decent full-time outfielder with a clean bill of health a better fit than either of them.
Now if Hart can be had as a DH and spot starter at first with utility insurance behind him and Teixeira, the Yankees should snap him up in a second. He's shown himself to be a very good player when healthy. But I suspect in the end that Hart and his agent will opt for a team with a fully vacant first base spot so he can better re-establish his value for the 2014 offseason when he would be in a position to secure a multi-year deal.