Free agent Jerry Hairston Jr. is returning to the Reds. A baseball source told MLB.com that Hairston and the club agreed to terms on a one-year contract worth a guaranteed $2 million on Tuesday. It's an incentive-laden deal that could be worth up to $4 million.I'm traveling so I can't do a full write-up. But $2 million is paying for less than a half-win above replacement (I think...the $4.8 million/WAR mark might need re-adjusting based on the recent other signings), so this seems like a pretty fair deal at first blush.
An announcement is expected Wednesday. The Royals and Cardinals were the other teams competing for Hairston's services.
It appears Cincinnati plans to make Hairston its starting shortstop this season because Alex Gonzalez won't be ready.
As a shortstop, Hairston projects as a -5 run/season player. He'd get a +7.5 run/season bonus for playing shortstop, so this means he's a tad above average as an infielder. As a corner outfielder, he projects to -4 runs/season in center or +4 runs/season in a corner. That makes him a tad below average as an outfielder. I'm going to punt and call him a dead-on average fielder. Maybe you give him a bonus because he's versatile, though...?
As a hitter, Hairston projects as a -12 runs/season hitter according to CHONE. In roughly 50% playing time (also projected, based on history), that means he's about a +4 RAR player in 2009.
What this means to me is that $2 million is a pretty fair salary for the guy. $4 million isn't unreasonable either (that's actually what CHONE values him at assuming average defense, which seems high to me), especially if it's based on playing time and performance goals that he'd have to meet to actually be worth that amount. I'm ok with this deal.
The fact that Gonzalez won't be ready isn't exactly a surprise, though it's disappointing. You have to seriously question, at this point, whether the guy's going to play in 2009. .... And if he does, how good he'll be. He wasn't that good to begin with.
There's not much else left on the market, so we might know our 2009 Reds at this point:
With a fair bit of Kepp at all the infield slots, probably. Yippie...