Clearly the New York Yankees are still in need of a right-handed bat in the outfield to complement all the lefties. While Scott Hairston‘s name has been thrown in the mix, the Yankees haven’t really been aggressive on signing him to a deal. However, with the Yankees’ continued interest in someone else even after signing Matt Diaz, Hairston is not another player the Yankees should let slip by. We’ve seen before earlier in this offseason, player after player slip through the grasp of the Bombers. Well I say no more. Hairston is the Yankees’ man and I’m sticking to it!
Hairston presents an interesting case for the Yankees. He’s not as old as the ex-Yankees Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez, and he’s had a rather decent career. The span of Hairston’s nine-year career has shown us a competent outfielder who usually can hit for a decent average while still being productive. In 2012, Hairston played in 134 games, which has been the most in any season so far for him. He had a .263/.299/.504 slash line, which is rather decent. He also drove in 57 RBIs and scored 52 runs. He’s not per se a Josh Hamilton at the plate, but he can pack a punch.
While he hasn’t had as much patience at the plate, having a decreased walk rate of 7.6 percent in 2011 compared to 4.8 percent in 2012, his eye has gotten better. In 2011, Hairston struck out 23.4 percent of the time, whereas in 2012 he struck out 20.9 percent of the time. What’s also impressive about Hairston was in this past season, he held an OPS+ of 117 in Citi Field, which has bigger dimensions than Yankee Stadium. Not to mention the year before in 2011, Hairston had a 113 OPS+, so he’s been on fire in most ballparks.
Unfortunately for Hairston, he wouldn’t be a starter as all the outfield positions are full, but he could also fill in nicely as the occasional DH. Going beyond his numbers, because the Yankees seem comfortable enough with them, Hairston’s overall value to the team is important. Hairston has said himself he isn’t looking for just a simple one-year, $1.1 million deal, and has hinted at possibly a multi-year contract. Now whether or not the Yankees are willing to go with this remains to be seen.
Let’s say hypothetically the Yankees sign Hairtson for two-years, $10 million. Curtis Granderson is gone after this year without a doubt, so the Yankees would still have an outfield consisting of Hairston, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki. What you do is keep Ichiro in right, move Gardner to center, put Hairston in left and at this point in time, Melky Mesa should be ready enough to be on the 25-man roster. Looks pretty smart to sign Hairston now, doesn’t it?
If the Yankees don’t sign Hairston, or he just simply falls through the cracks, I wouldn’t say 2013 is done, but the writing may be on the wall. There are guys the Yankees would have typically scooped up, but in fear of this luxury tax, they haven’t. There’s been concern if they’ll even have enough money to re-sign Robinson Cano, which is crazy. The Yankees’ hesitation to spend money is a new thing for fans and the MLB world to see, but it has come to this. Hairston, however, doesn’t have to slip through. The Yankees need that cog in the line-up and he could very well be it. So why the Yankees are continuing to drag their feet around a possible deal is beyond me. All I know is that whether or not anyone wants to admit it, this is a team that eventually is going to need some serious help if nothing changes.