Scott Hairston has been mentioned as an outfield option for the Cubs around this place only in passing, and only a handful of times. With a report just last week that he was limiting his choices to the New York Mets and the New York Yankees, it didn’t seem like discussing Hairston made too much sense (save for his impact on the Alfonso Soriano trade market).
But apparently the Yankees’ interest in Hairston is tepid, and the Mets, for whom he played last year, recently balked at his reported two-year, $8 million asking price (or did he ask for $8 million each year? Hard to tell from Heyman’s tweet – I’ve asked him to clarify). From there, perhaps Hairston decided to open up his discussions.
To that end, Jon Heyman just reported that, as a non-New York alternative, Hairston has “talked” to the Cubs, specifically.
It makes sense, as it always has. The Cubs are looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder who can play in right field and center field (to spell lefties Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus, together with righty Dave Sappelt), and that’s certainly Hairston. The 32-year-old outfielder can handle all three outfield positions, and put up a nice .263/.299/.504 line over 398 plate appearances last year. Those plate appearances were split evenly between lefties and righties (199 and 199), and his .867 OPS against lefties obviously pulled up his .739 against righties. The latter isn’t horrible, but it’s clear he’s at his best against lefties (.825/.704 split for his career).
If the Cubs could get Hairston on a deal even more favorable than the two years and $8 million he wants (since the Mets aren’t willing to pay that much), then he’s a great asset to bring into the fold. At that price? Well, that’s probably at least his actual value, and might even leave a little room for the all-important surplus value. Given the market, it sure seems like $4 million per year isn’t too much for Hairston to ask – indeed, I really do wonder if he’s asking for $8 million per year. Obviously that would be too much, but isn’t that usually what players ask for?
Lastly, as much as folks have grown weary of hearing it, Hairston on, say, a two-year deal could have trade value, depending on how things shake out over the first few months of the season. Yes, I’m saying he could be a “flippable asset,” depending on he performs (and how the Cubs perform).
Or, his addition could make dealing someone like Alfonso Soriano much more absorbable. Hairston obviously doesn’t replace Soriano’s production, but he’d make the loss of Soriano more manageable. Further, taking Hairston off the market makes Soriano just a touch more valuable.