Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Should the Mets pay Scott Hairston? I say yes.

Scott Hairston had a career year in 2012, hitting 20 home runs and posting a career-high .803 OPS+. Conservatively speaking, he outplayed his $1.1 Million salary. Hairston's play will certainly earn him a notable raise this offseason, with many saying he's priced himself out of the Mets' wallet. For that reason, this post may be a bit naive/unnecessary. However, let's consider for a bit that Hairston were willing to sign a team-friendly contract.

Hairston hit .263/.299/.504 this year, which is an improvement to his career marks (.247/.302/.449), but not so much so as to suggest anomaly. He hit .286/.317/.550 against left-handed pitching, again not far from his .276/.325/.500 career marks. His .229/.288/.416 line against right-handed pitching suggests that he would be an ideal fit in a platoon, which could be a deterrent. The Mets, however, have a plethora of Lefty-batting outfielders with large platoon splits, all of whom are under team control and making Major-League minimum salaries. 2013 will likely feature an outfield starting Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Mike Baxter against right-handed pitching. Jason Bay will likely patrol Left Field against lefty-pitching. Having a veteran like Hairston to platoon with Kirk and/or Baxter would significantly improve the outfield offense, which has been targeted as a significant need this offseason.

For simplicity's sake, let's consider a strict platoon of Mike Baxter and Scott Hairston in right field next year. In 2012, Mikescott Baxston hit .287/.335/.504 in 388 plate appearances. Compare that to:

Nick Swisher - .272/.364/.473, 624 PA ($10,250,000)
Carlos Beltran - .269/.346/.495, 619 PA ($13,000,000)
Jayson Werth - .300/.387/.440, 344 PA ($13,000,000)
Josh Hamilton - .285/.354/.577, 636 PA ($13,750,000)

Baxston likely won't turn any heads, nor would he be lauded as a major victory for Sandy Alderson. However, it's a quiet move that could shore up a position of need, and do so relatively inexpensively. Compared to the short list above, would offering Hairston a 2-year, $9M contract not be unreasonable?