Jerry Hairston Jr. agrees to one-year deal with Nationals

1 Comment

Our own Aaron Gleeman mentioned the possibility last week and now the deal is done.

Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that Jerry Hairston Jr. has agreed to terms with the Nationals. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Hairston signed a one-year, $2 million contract with another $1 million in performance-based incentives.

Hairston, who turns 35 in May, batted .244/.299/.353 with 10 home runs and 50 RBI over 476 plate appearances with the Padres last season. He was shut down in September with a fractured right tibia, but is expected to be ready for the start of the season.

The versatile Hairston will essentially fill the utility role left by Willie Harris, who recently signed a minor league contract with the Mets. He will also function as insurance for rookie second baseman Danny Espinosa, who batted .214 over his first 114 major league plate appearances last season and is currently working his way back from offseason surgery on his right wrist.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

Getty Images
Leave a comment

All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉