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scott hairston metsIt kind of started to feel like this was coming …

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Chicago Cubs have agreed to a two-year deal with outfielder Scott Hairston. The terms aren’t yet known, but he had asked the Mets for two years and $8 million (they offered just one year and $2 million). I wouldn’t be surprised if the deal is somewhere close to that range – probably just a touch under. Obviously we’ll wait for an official confirmation.

The Cubs have been looking for a right-handed outfield bat for a while now, and Hairston is a very good one. He’s versatile enough to cover every outfield spot, and he mashes lefties. He’ll likely work as part of an outfield mix – together with Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus, Nate Schierholtz, and someone like Dave Sappelt – getting starts against both lefties and righties (but primarily lefties). Here’s what I said about Hairston earlier in the offseason as a potential target:

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).

The signing would put the Cubs’ 40-man roster at 42, with Carlos Villanueva also waiting to be added. So there are going to have to be some serious roster machinations, and soon. Hairston’s deal is pending a physical, so there’s some time built in, as there always is.

Obviously we’ll discuss the signing quite a bit more in the coming days, assuming it doesn’t fall victim to the nasty early-report-itis. The early take is that I like the depth (and lineup options) it provides, and it means the Cubs could be more flexible in dealing someone like Alfonso Soriano, if they were inclined to do so. But, make no mistake, signing Hairston does not directly impact Soriano – the Cubs wanted a right-handed outfield bat either way.

UPDATE: Jon Heyman and Bruce Levine have both “confirmed” the signing, so I’m thinking this one is safe.

UPDATE 2: Bruce Levine reports that the deal is worth up to $6 million total, if Hairston reaches certain incentives. This could wind up being a great contract.

  • calicubsfan007

    Like Brett said, we all started to see this coming. I am still waiting for the press conference before I get too excited. But awesome signing if this all works out.

  • The Show

    Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I did predict this signing almost exactly a month ago, December 23rd.

    • The Show

      Sorry, it as actually exactly a month ago. I just saw the date and I didn’t realize it was passed midnight.

      • Hansman1982

        Not to toot my own horn but it is presently January 24th and I can count calendar dates. It’s been 31-32 (depending if you’re counting the 23rd as a full day) days.

        And Not to toot Brett’s horn (he’s just not that kind of guy (not that there is anything wrong with that)) but he called it first.

        • Internet Random

          But my banana requires the biggest hammock.

  • wiscubfan

    did anyone else hear that Hairston can also play 2nd and spell Barney ?

    • mudge

      But can he pitch and spell Samardzija?

      • Edwin

        Buh Zing!

      • yield51

        Valbuena would be the more logical guy (LH) to spell Barney when he needs a day off.

        • CubFan Paul

          I’d like to see Valbuena get the opportunity to win the 2B job this spring. Athletically he puts Barney to shame.

          Valbuena would definitely slug more than .360

          • Edwin

            Valbuena has a career SLG of .343. His career OBP is .292. The last time he slugged above .360 was 2009 (.416). Statistically, his defense has been below average for his career. He is statistically a below average baserunner, and has 4 career stolen bases. If he is athletic, it hasn’t seemed to help him play good defense or make much of any impact on running bases.

            Barney plays better defense, runs the bases better, and has been a slightly better hitter than Valbuena throughout his career. Darwin Barney has a career SLG of .349.

            Valbuena has a better ISO, but otherwise Barney is clearly the better player. Valbuena is ok as a backup, but there’s no way that Valbuena beats out Barney for starting job.

            • CubFan Paul

              “Valbuena has a career SLG of .343. His career OBP is .292. The last time he slugged above .360 was 2009 (.416).” – Blanket statement

              Valbuena has shown more pop than .343 since his ’06 rookie season. He also slugged .491 the last two years in AAA, which is a huge sign of improvement after getting exposed in 2010.

              Valbuena and Barney are both nothing more than Utility Infielders at this point in their careers, but Luis is the better of the two.

          • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

            Barney basically has 2B as is position to lose, but wonder where is the offensive line he’d have to drop below before replacing him becomes a regular discussion?

            • Edwin

              If his offense drops much lower, he’d probably be replaced. From 2002-2012, for 2B with over 550 PA, Barney’s 2012 wRC+ ranks 8th to last at 75. I think if it falls below 70 it becomes a regular discussion.

            • yield51

              If Watkins puts up similar or better numbers this year, that regular discussion would start. He has been young for his league at every stop, and has played well. If the Cubs believe that Barney’s defensive praise are a product of the system, he will be dealt if the price is right. I know he has been labeled as a “core” piece, but he just doesn’t fit what the F.O. likes.

  • http://bleachernation.com ramy16

    According to the Chicago Tribune with the signing of Hairston there is a possible trade looming with a log jam of outfielder’s! So does that mean Soriano is gone? Brett Jackson? Time will tell I am sure Brett will be all over this!

    • calicubsfan007

      @ramy: Smart money is on Sori. But I am not sure that he will want to leave the Cubs.

  • daveyrosello

    Hard to see why some are criticizing this move, I don’t get it. The money is cheap, Hairston is hardly a long-term solution, but he improves the team right now and provides needed RH pop. And he’s “flippable” for what that’s worth. Seems like a perfect moneyball-esque move, and I like it. Now, if the Cubs could get a low top-10ish prospect for him, you have the flexibility to trade DeJesus if need be. Or go with the double platoon as mentioned above. Nice to have options.

    I also don’t understand the mystery behind the 40-man allocations. Honestly, would any team in baseball at this time of year, when 40-man slots are at a premium, would they seriously waste one on a Rusin, Raley, Clevenger and/or Campana? Seriously??

    And perhaps more important, even IF they were claimed by someone else and lost to the Cubs, why should we even care? You cannot convince me any of those 4 will ever make a meaningful contribution to any major league team. So you waive all four, claim Carpenter (if Boston does in fact waive him), get Villanueva and Hairston on board, and you’re STILL at 39. Problem(s) solved.

    • calicubsfan007

      @davey: Good points. We can feel much more at ease that we have a much smaller chance that the your name here guys will sneak onto the roster this year. I like the Hairston signing.

    • Rcleven

      Clevenger has to be protected right now just for injury back-up.

      • mudge

        You’re him, aren’t you? You “R” Clevenger!

        • yield51

          And you are Castillo, “pudge” would be way too obvious a handle for a professional catcher, so you flavored it up a bit with an “m”.

  • daveyrosello

    Also, I seem to recall earlier this winter that a couple of teams were interested in DeJesus, so he might be the OF to go if there is a trade on the horizon. Otherwise, it would have to be BJax in a bigger trade. Cuz we all know Soriano is going nowhere.

    • calicubsfan007

      True. I would imagine it being DeJesus sooner than Jackson. The Cubs have seemingly spent way too much time fixing his swing and everything to cut ties with him now.

  • mudge

    Soriano, two platoons, Brett Jackson in Iowa. Makes sense for now. If they really want to be stacked in the outfield, they can trade Sori and sign Sofia Vergara.

    • Can’t think of a cool name

      Don’t we already have Kim DeJesus? Who would we drop off the 40 woman list?

  • jt

    Hairston should help The Cubs lose their amateur standing.
    Not a great signing…but a good signing.

  • Jackalope

    Hairston career splits:
    vs. righties: 86 RC+
    vs. lefties: 119 RC+

    DeJesus career splits:
    vs. righties: 117 RC+
    vs. lefties: 80 RC+

    Beauty, eh?

  • cubsklm

    Nice signing, not great but nice.

    Gives lineup flexibility and finally a stick off the bench, which is sorely needed.
    This gives a major league outfield of Soriano, DeJesus, Schierholtz, and Hairston.
    With the 5th spot open for competition between Camp and Sappeldt.

    If anything it signals Jackson in AAA until the trade deadline, when the Cubs finally have a realistic chance of trading Soriano.

    What if Rizzo has an injury, who plays first?

    Add more depth and sticks to the bench, please.

  • TheRiot2

    Definitely need a back up IB for Rizzo,but Hairston could be that guy ——– short term that is.

    • cubsklm

      Hairston did not play 1 game at 1B last year.

      May I suggest another guy with some pop for the bench and can spell Rizzo once in awhile at first, Casey Kotchman. I think he can be added on the cheap with incentives.

    • daveyrosello

      That’s why I think Lillibridge has the 2nd utility IF job to lose in Arizona. He has played every position but catcher in the big leagues. He can cover 1B on the half-dozen games out of 162 that the Cubs rest Rizzo.

  • blublud

    I have been begging for Hairston since the offseason begun. Unfortunately, this is a bitter sweet signing for me. I have said Campana won’t be DFA unless we sign another OF. I still think he’s better then Shierholtz or Sappelt, but this front office brought in both of those guys, so of course they are going to choose their guys. I’m still not sure Campana is the guy to be DFA’d, as I think the FO will try to DFA someone they know won’t be claimed. There is no way in hell Campana clear waivers. If he is DFA’d, he is gone, and we will still will be lacking outfield depth.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      I think Campana has a very good shot at clearing waviers, all MLB teams are in a roster crunch and not sure if any of them would want a 5/6th OF with only one skill. Campana’s value is inflated by Cub fans aka sCRAP factor (ht Hansman) the rest of the MLB will see him as a fringe player and have to decide if his value is greater than what they have developed.

    • Bigg J

      So I am guessing they were waiting to see what Hairston did before DFA anyone. They now have to clear 2 spots to do this and Campana will be one of those, but who is going to be the 2nd?

  • Bigg J

    I have wanted the Cubs to pick up Hairston for awhile now and he finally goes. He is just a versatile asset to the club that can play all over

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  • 5412

    Hi,

    Despite his cockiness, my guess is the Cubs are hoping Jackson can create the illusion of fixing his swing. I would bet he is gone in a year if not sooner.

    With Hairston and others, my guess is also the Cubs really want to move Soriano. I felt last year was a great one to create value and move him, even if you have to almost give him away. We have no guarantees, at his age, that he can continue to do as well.

    With a 42 man roster, it looks like the chips are starting to fall in place and I think we will see some significant activity in the next week or so. Maybe even a Marmol trade.

    regards,
    5412

  • Fastball

    Hairston can also play 3B. He played some 3B when he was with the Padres. I would venture to say he is kind of like Mark Derosa. Pretty good baseball player who can play damned near any postion on the field. Here’s a prediction… If Bourne falls into our lap in the next 2 weeks as desperation sets in. Don’t be surprised if Hairston isn’t taking a lot groundballs at 3B this spring. I know a lot of folks on hear think Stewart has that spot nailed down. I am not so much a believer. He wasn’t signed to a big league contract. He is on one of those Hybrid contracts. I’m not so sure Theo and Jed have too many eggs in the Stewart basket. Also if Stewart can’t hit lefties you might see Hairston at 3B in all those situations since he hits them well. I do believe he will play in the OF his fair share but don’t be surprised if he is in the lineup almost everyday depending on pitching match ups.

    At this point if we get Bourne on a 2 year deal for cheap money we become something a little different in the NL Central. I know people are going to say we aren’t getting Bourne. Well if he isn’t signed in the next two weeks I bet we do. 2 yrs. @ $20M. We would have him just about as long as we would have a use for him. It’s the perfect deal for the Cubs. I personally don’t really care about the 2nd round draft pick all that much. 80% of the 1st rounders never even see the Majors, the 2nd rounders have even worse percentages on making it. I know a lot of people are in love with draft picks. I like them too. But I like players who can produce at the ML level right now. Not much risk in that! Some 2nd rounder we get all jacked up over ends up being nothing doesn’t appeal to me.

  • ReiCow

    Good job Brett, you called it!

    With this signing, are you going to make a “Sign all the OFers!!!” image for the Cubs? :)

    Moo.

  • willis

    I like it, because it probably means Campana is DFA’d…which is a good thing. As Goat said, his value has been so overhyped by scrap loving fans that they fail to see that his baseball skills, other than speed, don’t exist. He has to be one of the guys to go with these two signings out there.

    But Hairston is ok. Not great but can add a little to the bench and get some spot starts. He has a little pop so that’s nice (seeing that outside Soriano, the OF has none). He’s a nice addition to the club.

  • Mac

    Not sure if anybody posted this already but, him and his brother both played for the cubs now and their dad and grandpa both played for the white sox. Kind of ironic

    • DarthHater

      Not ironic. The family is just evolving into a higher form of life. ;-)

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