The Mets continued to fill out their bench this week, re-inking outfielder Scott Hairston to a one-year, $1.1 million deal. Hairston was signed to the exact same contract last season, but based on his 2011 production (.235/.303/.470 line in 145 PA’s), his new guaranteed contract is a bit of a head-scratcher.
Hairston’s career has unfortunately been riddled with injuries. He’s impressed many with small stints (.299/.358/.533 line in 216 PA’s for the Padres in 2009), and disappointed with others (.210/.295/.346 line in 336 PA’s with the Padres in 2010). Regardless, his good career line against lefties (career .274/.328/.486), decent glove (4.5 UZR/150 in 3036.3 outfield innings), and respectable pop (career .193 ISO) has continually kept him employed.
However, Scott Hairston didn’t provide most of those assets for the Mets in 2011. The righty’s .235 ISO was the highest rate of his career, but he only hit a .247/.307/.395 line against lefties, and sported an ugly -20.2 UZR/150 in 193 outfield innings. Even though Adam Loewen and Mike Baxter are both left-handed hitters, the pair would serve as cheaper options with arguably higher ceilings–and serving the same service (backup outfielders). What’s also mysterious is why the Mets would invest $1.1 million in a backup outfielder–an abundant depth asset–but not just $250,000 more to a backup catcher like Kelly Shoppach (depth we are in dire need for).
Granted, neither Scott Hairston nor Kelly Shoppach guarantee a World Series ring, but seeing Hairston back in town at the same rate after a pretty dismal season is surprising.