It seems that we’ll be hearing a lot about one year deals over the next couple of months with the way the Yankees planned for next year’s budget . Thus far, Ichiro Suzuki, Raul Ibanez, Hiroki Kuroda, and Torii Hunter have all been linked to the team on short contracts for 2013. Feel free to have faith though, since Brian Cashman has found a way to consistently pluck unforeseen talent from the market year after year. The Yankees used proper playing-time management for Marcus Thames, Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones, and Ibanez, and each of these players erupted with a huge impact. The newest player on Cashman’s list is Scott Hairston.
The right handed hitter is coming off his best offensive season yet, and all in a pitcher friendly ballpark. In 2012, he hit .263/.299/.504 with 20 homeruns, and 8 stolen bases. Those slugging numbers are particularly impressive, however, he does his best work against left handed hitters, who he hit for .286/.317/.550 (wOBA .368) in 199 plate appearances. Then there is his ballpark split, where he hit .301/.355/.528 (wOBA .370) outside of the spacious Citi Field.
Moving him to a more hitter friendly ballpark and platooning him alongside a left handed outfielder could mean that he maintains those lofty power numbers. If he were to hold down right field alongside Ichiro, the Yankees would have a much more formidable defensive duo than the Jones/Ibanez mess from 2012.
Hairston isn’t a perfect match up though. While his power potential is intriguing, he is terrible at getting on base. Last season he had just a 4.8% BB%, and that numbers was even worse facing left handed pitchers. Then there’s a real question about the ballpark factor, because although Yankee Stadium is known for being a small, most of Hairston’s power comes from pulling the ball, and there isn’t much of an advantage when hitting balls to left field.
There may also be sign-ability issues. Coming off such a good season, Hairston may be looking at other contract offers longer than a single year. There are likely some teams that would be willing to sign him as an everyday player as well, and the Yankees offer would cut his playing time in half. In this case, I’m not sure why Hairston would choose a lesser role and possibly a lesser contract length just to play in the Bronx. The one benefit Cashman has is money, and on a one year deal, they likely have close to unlimited funds.
Personally, I liked Hairston two-years ago as a comeback player after an awful stint in San Diego. Since then, his power numbers have increased, but at the expense of walks. Even with 20 homeruns last season, he had an OBP one point below .300, and that’s something to worry about. This is a case where it really is bad to rely on homeruns, because he’s at the point where he’s swinging at everything, all or nothing. In comparison to Andruw Jones’ 2012 season, he’s a huge upgrade, but I find it hard to believe they can’t find a more well-rounded player. Preferably, the Yankees could find another right handed hitter with better on base skills, and if possible, opposite field power.