Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has reported via Twitter that the Nationals have acquired outfielder Scott Hairston from the Cubs in exchange for a minor league pitcher. Rosenthal says that the player going to the Cubs will be announced in the morning.
While all three of the Nationals starting outfielders have played well of late, Bryce Harper has said that his knee injury could linger through the rest of the season, and Jayson Werth seems to always be dealing with a minor hamstring injury or a wrist injury, so the chances that both players will need some days off here and there is quite high. The Nationals thought they had their fourth man in Tyler Moore, but he’s struggled to a dismal .153 batting average in 102 at-bats this year. While Hairston is hitting just 19 points higher (.172) this season, he’s also hit more than three times as many home runs (eight) in four less at-bats. Hairston figures to replace Moore, who was the only Nationals starter not to reach base in Sunday’s 11-7 victory over the Padres, as Washington’s go-to right-handed bench bat.
Another benefit to adding Hairston is bringing another veteran presence into the locker room. He’s played on first-place teams and last-place teams, but brings experience and another competitive spirit to a locker room of players that are currently trying to hunt down the first-place Atlanta Braves. Most of Hairston’s last five years have been spent playing for cellar-dwellers, so perhaps having a chance to play for a team in a pennant race will motivate him and help jumpstart his offensive production. Hairston is also under team control through 2014, meaning that there’s a better chance that the 33-year old can become a veteran leader in the clubhouse, much like his brother Jerry did when he played in Washington in 2011.
At the end of the day, the story here is that Nationals added a fourth outfielder. Nothing sexy about this trade. But history shows that teams that win World Series titles do the little things well, and a large part of that is getting production from your bench. I’m not saying that Scott Hairston is the reason the Nationals can win the World Series, but it’s certainly an addition that will help the cause.