According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, the Chicago Cubs have come to terms with free-agent outfielder Scott Hairston, pending a physical.
Sources: #Cubs in agreement on two-year deal with free-agent outfielder Scott Hairston, pending physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 24, 2013
This signing definitely solidifies the questionable right field position in Wrigley, a position that will probably be a two-man platoon shared by Nate Schierholtz and Scott Hairston. The odd man out now seems to be Brett Jackson, who seemed determined to break camp with the big league team when spring training ended.
It sounds very logical to have Hairston and Schierholtz platoon in right field as Hairston dominates left-handed pitching and Schierholtz hits left-handed, so he arguably will have better success against right-handed pitchers. This signing looks as if Theo Epstein is trying to build a Frankenstein right fielder out of two guys, taking advantage of their strengths and hiding their weaknesses.
However, after further review, the Cubs may not be signing Hairston to be a platoon player at all. Scott Hairston has been brought aboard to win the job.
When looking at Hairston and Schierholtz's splits, it really wouldn't make sense to have Hairston platoon with Schierholtz in right field. In 2012, Schierholtz batted against right-handed pitchers a total of 178 times and compiled a .287 average with six home runs and 17 RBI. The batting average is pretty solid, but the other stats are fairly pedestrian.
Compare what Schierholtz did against right-handed pitchers to what Hairston did against right-handed pitchers in 2012, and you will see there isn't much difference. Hairston faced right-handed pitchers a total of 188 times, and compiled a .239 average with nine home runs and 27 RBI. Aside from the batting average, all fingers would point to Hairston winning the job this spring if based on those splits.
Still not convinced that Hairston has a shot at a starting job?
From day one of free agency it seemed pretty clear that Hairston was going to end up with the team that offered the most playing time and not necessarily the most money. It had been believed that the Mets would be his most likely landing spot again in 2013. Considering the Mets' dire outfield situation, it looked like the most logical place for Hairston to get a ton of playing time—and maybe even to be an everyday player.
Up until last night, most Mets fans expected Hairston to be with the team in 2013.
Enter the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs sneaked around behind the scenes like a ninja and quietly swept Hairston off his feet, most likely with promises of playing time and a potential starting job. That's what it all comes down to for Hairston, right? Playing time?
Well it shouldn't be too difficult to nail down a starting job in Chicago if he plays like he did in 2012. This Hairston signing for two years could also mean that the Cubs have little confidence that any of their outfield prospects will be ready until at least 2015. That's when the Cubs should finally get to see Jorge Soler and Albert Almora roaming the outfield grass at Wrigley Field.