First reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals have acquired Scott Hairston from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for High A Potomac pitcher Ivan Pineyro. Hairston fits the role of the veteran right-handed power bench bat the Nationals were reportedly seeking.
The 33-year-old Hairston is a career .244/.299/.447 hitter in ten major league seasons with the Diamondbacks, Padres, A’s, Mets, and Cubs. He hit .263/.299/.504 with 20 home runs in 134 games for the Mets last year, but is hitting just .172/.232/.434, albeit with eight home runs, as a bench bat who has fallen out of favor in Chicago. The main reason for Hairston’s struggles appears to be luck, as he has baseball’s lowest batting average on balls in play (BABIP), at .132, which is less than half of his career mark of .287. BABIP is largely dependent on luck, which would indicate that Hairston is likely to rebound. In fact, Hairston homered in his last Chicago at-bat, a pinch-hit solo shot on Sunday. In addition to being a potential bargain buy, Hairston fits with the Nats as a great hitter against lefties, with a career .268/.317/.496 line against them.
Hairston is under team control through next season at $2.5M, which means he figures to be more than a half-season rental. The Nationals had space on their 40-man roster after outrighting Ryan Perry off of it last week, but the corresponding 25-man move is still unknown. It will likely be to option Tyler Moore back to Triple A Syracuse, given Moore’s .157 average this season. The only other Nats bench outfielder is Roger Bernadina, who is also struggling offensively but cannot be sent to Triple A without being exposed to waivers and is a great fielder, unlike Moore or Hairston.
The Nationals signed Pineyro out of the Dominican Republic as an amateur free agent, and he debuted in 2011 in the Dominican Summer League at age 19. In 15 starts between Low A Hagerstown and Potomac this season, he has a 3.24 ERA.