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Mariners sign Corey Hart to 1-year deal

Seattle has added a strong right-handed bat to hit behind Robinson Cano.

Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE

The Seattle Mariners have signed free-agent first baseman/outfielder Corey Hart to a one-year contract, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Like Mike Napoli's deal with the Red Sox last season, Hart's new contract will offer him a low base salary with the opportunity to more than double that total through incentives. He will earn $5 million in base salary but can ramp that up to as much as $13 million over the course of the 2014 season if he meets certain benchmarks for playing time, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

The 31-year-old was one of Milwaukee's primary targets this week, but Doug Melvin and company couldn't (or wouldn't) match Seattle's offer. The Brewers were reportedly willing to give Hart as much as $8 million in salary plus incentives to keep him in the Midwest, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, which fell well short.

Hart missed the entirety of 2013 recovering from microfracture surgery on his right knee, but he figures to be healthy and plug right into the heart of the Mariners' lineup behind Robinson Cano when the 2014 season begins. The two-time all-star is a career .276/.334/.491 hitter in parts of nine seasons, and averaged 24 home runs per year in his six seasons as a full-time player.

It's unclear where on the field the M's will put Hart given his leg issues, but he could potentially split time between right field, first base and designated hitter. The Kentucky native was primarily a right fielder for his first several seasons of big-league ball, but moved to the cold corner in 2012 when his knee problems surfaced.

Seattle also just acquired another 1B/OF type, Logan Morrison, from the Marlins, so he and Hart could potentially split time around the right-hand corners of the diamond.

Right-handed hitters have always struggled to maintain their power at Safeco Field -- see: Adrian Beltre -- but the park played almost neutral against righties in 2013 after the left-field fence was moved in, so there's a chance that Hart's production won't suffer as much in Seattle as might have at one time.

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