The Nationals made a move late Sunday night to bolster their underperforming bench and address their struggles against left-handed pitches by trading a minor league pitcher to the Chicago Cubs for veteran right-handed outfielder Scott Hairston, according to a Fox Sports report. The Nationals had been interested in improving their bench with a veteran right-handed hitter and may have found one in 33-year-old Hairston. After a strong season in 2012, the Nationals bench has been underwhelming this season. They are 23rd in the majors with a .174 average pinch-hitting because of the struggles of Chad Tracy, Tyler Moore, Steve Lombardozzi, Roger Bernadina and others. Moore, a right-handed batter, was expected to fill the role of backup outfielder-first baseman who could pinch hit and face left-handed pitching when needed, but he has hit .157 in 102 at-bats and .130 against left-handers. As a team, the Nationals have struggled against left-handed pitching. The Nationals are last in the majors with a .218 average and .626 OPS against southpaws. Hairston, who signed a two-year, $5-million deal with the Cubs in the offseason, has made a reputation for smashing left-handed pitching. He has a career .268 average and .813 OPS against left-handed pitchers. He hit .263 with a .803 OPS and hit 20 home runs last season with the New York Mets. This season, in limited playing time, Hairston has hit .172 overall with eight home runs in 99 at-bats and posted a .169 average and .685 OPS against left-handers. The National League Central is right-handed pitching heavy. And, Hairston appears to have had some bad luck; his .129 average with balls in play (BABIP) is far below his career average of .272. The deal for Hairston also fits the mold of deal by a General Manager Mike Rizzo, who prefers to avoid one-season rental players. Hairston was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third round in 2001, when Rizzo was head of scouting there.
Nationals trade for outfielder Scott Hairston
Washington Post | Jul 8