It 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.