The Chicago Cubs front office never sleeps. I like that.
Overnight, Ken Rosenthal reported that the Cubs are going to trade outfielder Scott Hairston to the Washington Nationals for a minor league pitcher in a deal that will be announced at some point today. Jon Heyman chipped in with a confirmation that additionally noted that the pitcher was an A-ball pitcher, and that the Cubs were kicking in a little bit of cash (less than $500,000) in the deal.
The Cubs signed Hairston late in the offseason to a two-year, $5 million deal, which seemed like a steal at the time. Hairston was coming off a great year with the Mets (118 OPS+, 1.6 WAR in part-time duty), and the Cubs needed a right-handed complement to their various outfield platoons. Although flipping him was probably always a part of the appeal, I don’t know that moving him this soon after signing his deal was an expectation.
That’s especially true after he hit just .172/.232/.434 out of the gate. Then again, his BABIP is just .129(!!!), and he’s got a .739 OPS against lefties this year, despite all of the struggles. He does have three homers and a .333/.455/1.333 line in his last six games, and he’s hitting a more reasonable .206/.282/.485 since April, so maybe the Nats sensed a buy low opportunity. Hopefully the Cubs didn’t indulge that sense in the hopes of a mere salary dump.
To that end, and as for the return, I’m very excited to learn the identity of this mystery A-ball pitcher coming back to the Cubs. I don’t expect that it will be a top prospect – or even someone in the Nats’ top 30 – but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s someone at least worth knowing. The Cubs are getting the bulk of Hairston’s contract paid for, but it’s such a small sum of money. Hopefully the Cubs aren’t in a situation where saving a few million bucks on an under-market deal they just signed is a priority.
My gut says that the Cubs would have been content to hang onto Hairston until at least the offseason, given his contract, unless they actually received something useful in trade. We’ll see if my gut is just optimistic.
No one has said anything about international pool slots, but we do know that the Cubs are looking for those as well. Maybe we’ll come to find that a pool slot is coming back to the Cubs in this deal, too.