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.
Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.
No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.
Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:
Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.
Manfred didn’t stop there, however.
An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?