Jan 24, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT
Age on Opening Day 2014: 33
How acquired: Traded from Cubs for RHP Ivan Pineyro and player-to-be-named, July 2013
2014 salary: $2.5 million (Cubs are paying $500,000 of that)
2013 stats (Nats only): 33 G, 62 PA, 5 R, 13 H, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 0 SB, 2 BB, 19 SO, .224 AVG, .246 OBP, .379 SLG, .625 OPS, 1 E, -4.5 UZR, -0.7 WAR
2014 storyline: Acquired in midseason to shore up a weak bench, Hairston didn’t contribute a whole lot to the Nationals, though he did hit .271 against left-handers. GM Mike Rizzo made the deal in large part because Hairston was already signed for another season, so this was part of the plan all along.
Davey Johnson had trouble getting Hairston any significant playing time, and Matt Williams will face an even tougher challenge in that regard, with Nate McLouth now on board as the No. 4 outfielder. Hairston’s at-bats will almost certainly come primarily against lefties, especially tough relievers late in games. The Nationals will have to hope his career .815 OPS against southpaws still applies.
Best-case scenario: Hairston proves to be a potent pinch-hitter and delivers big-time production in key spots late in games against lefty relievers. He finds his way into the lineup on occasion and hits .260 overall with 15 homers.
Worst-case scenario: Though he manages to connect for a few long balls every now and again, Hairston struggles to find any offensive groove when he’s not getting any regular playing time. He can’t crack the Mendoza Line, posts a sub-.250 on-base percentage and strikes out a ton in big spots off the bench. The Nationals end up releasing him in July.
Most-likely scenario: If used correctly, Hairston should be able to do some damage against left-handers. It’ll be up to Williams to find ways to maximize his abilities, but Hairston should be good for a .240 overall batting average, 10 homers and more than a few big hits in big spots off the bench.
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