Free-agent matchmaker: Scott Hairston

Alex Trautwig

Where will Scott Hairston end up? Where should he? Also, by clicking on a link about Scott Hairston, you have legally declared that you are ready for baseball season to start.

This headline exists:

Hairston Expected To Choose Team This Week

It's from MLB Trade Rumors. If your reaction was one of anticipation, you probably need an intervention.

Jim Gray: You've had everybody else biting their nails. So I guess it's time for them to stop chewing. The answer to the question everybody wants to know: Scott, what's your decision?

Scott Hairston: In this spring … this is very tough … in this spring, I'm going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Marlins.

Miami Marlins: Sweet. Our friend Chet is driving out for spring training. Can you hitch a ride with him? It'd save us the airfare. And instead of $480,000 in a check with taxes taken out, can we give you $430,000 cash?

Hairston: Uh, wait, gimme another second.

Since the end of the season, MLB Trade Rumors has tagged 35 stories about Hairston. The Mets, Braves, Phillies, Yankees, Tigers, Indians, Cubs, Cardinals, and Giants have all been linked to him. He's the archetype of a Twitter Era free agent, with the good folks at MLBTR collecting a torrent of Hairston-related tidbits and presenting them for our edification. Here's the first post of the offseason about Hairston:

Mets officials think Scott Hairston will get a two-year deal worth between $8-10MM this winter.

Here's what happened a month later:

(Jonny Gomes is signing) a two-year contract worth $10MM according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

And here's what should have happened within two days of that announcement:

Scott Hairston's agent: We will sign for two years, $11 million. The extra million is for not fielding like Greg Luzinski on bath salts.

Instead, we have a drawn-out affair, with Hairston hemming and hawing, his agent playing everyone involved like it was the world's crappiest episode of Game of Thrones. Isn't this all a bit much?

It is, until you realize a dirty little secret: Every team, other than the Diamondbacks, can use Scott Hairston. Twenty-nine of the 30 teams in baseball would have a better 25-man roster with Hairston on it.

vs RHP as RHB 1347 .229 .288 .416 .704
vs LHP as RHB 850 .276 .325 .500 .825

He's a lefty-masher who can play all three outfield positions. Every team should have one of those, but there aren't that many out there. Cody Ross is one, as is Reed Johnson, and they're both spoken for. Where 30 teams should each have one of these, there just aren't enough to go around. And there you have it: How Scott Hairston became a player of interest.

The problem is that he might want to be a starter instead of a specialist. If that's the case, most of those 29 teams would be right to slowly back away. But here are the favorites to get him, as well as the best fit ...

The favorites

The Mets' current outfield might be Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Mike Baxter, the latter of whom was just made up, and Duda might field like Greg Luzinski on bath salts on rollerblades, but they also have Colin Cowgill. He can do 60 percent of Hairston's job at 10 percent of the money. They're right to be lukewarm on bringing Hairston back at a premium.

But the Yankees … man, oh, man, the Yankees. You see how Hairston would fit with an all-lefty outfield, right? Hairston could spot Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, or Ichiro against tough lefties, and he could pick up a fair amount of DH time, too. If this were 2005, Hairston would already be a Yankee.

These are the new, cost-conscious Yankees, though. And anything that puts them in danger of going over the salary cap luxury tax isn't going to work.

They're already hosed for 2013, though, and they have a little wiggle room for 2014. So a smallish two-year deal for a player who makes this kind of sense for the roster wouldn't be wholly unexpected. I still think it will happen.

The ideal

Kevin Towers comes through Chase Field's center-field gate, riding on a howdah on top of a phalanx of outfielders, swaying from side to side. Minor-league outfielders form a gauntlet along the outfield grass, with heralding trumpets announcing his arrival. A young outfielder runs up to the howdah with a chalice. Towers sips and swirls the contents around in his mouth.

"Needs more chlorine."

The phalanx moves on, lumbering toward an uncertain future.

Grudging prediction

Yankees, two years, $8 million. It makes too much sense not to happen. If you're worried about avoiding a luxury tax, cheapish complementary players like Hairston is how you get there when you can afford a $180 million payroll in the first place.

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