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Posted at 1:50 PM ET, 01/19/2011

Nationals sign Jerry Hairston Jr.

By Adam Kilgore

The Nationals have signed Jerry Hairston Jr. to a one-year contract, giving them a versatile, athletic bench player and a reliable option behind rookie second baseman Danny Espinosa. The deal is worth $2 million and could be worth $3 million with incentives, as first reported by FoxSports.com.

Hairston Jr., 34, hit .244/.299/.353 (average/on-base/slugging) with 10 home runs in 476 plate appearances for the San Diego Padres last year. He played mostly shortstop and second base and also appeared in left field, right field and at third base.

Hairston Jr. fits the Nationals' needs. He is, at this point, a better player than Alex Cora, with whom the Nationals reached a minor league contract this week. Hairston can provide a backup to Espinosa, a rookie who underwent minor hand surgery this winter, and also serve as a reserve outfielder and late-inning pinch runner.

The move likely fills out the Nationals bench, which also includes Alberto Gonzalez, two of Rick Ankiel, Michael Morse and Roger Bernadina, and either Jesus Flores or Wilson Ramos. Cora will also vie for a spot, most likely competing with Gonzalez.

By Adam Kilgore  | January 19, 2011; 1:50 PM ET
 
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Next: By adding Tom Gorzelanny and Jerry Hairston, Mike Rizzo creates competition

Comments

Yep Ladson et al concur.

What about the trade? Four slots need to open up on the 40 before Opening day?

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

In lieu of any recent "big" move, a lot of little ones that should bolster the Nationals' depth for 2011 as they prepare for Strasburg's return and Harper's arrival in '12. I like it. Good work, Rizzo.

Posted by: VPaterno | January 19, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I like it as well!

You can make fun of the nats so called "plan" all you want...this team reminds me of those early years of the caps.

1) Caps stuck to an idea
2) Nats are sticking to their idea
3) Skins ..what a mess!

Posted by: Nats1924 | January 19, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

periculum, aren't the Nats more athletic and better defensively now than they were last season? It seems to me that the offense may actually be better with Werth and LaRoche (or at least more consistent, predictable). The Nats are adding pitching and are either creating competition or inventory (for another trade--thus, the Coffey signing). I like it ATC. And the trades for pitching might not be over yet. What do you think?

Posted by: fpcsteve27 | January 19, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Cora, Hairston, Coffey, Slaten, Morse.

Looks like the Natinals are building a quality AAAA roster.

That'll compete against the Braves, Phillies, and Marlins.........

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | January 19, 2011 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Have fun watching those O's, Poopy.

Posted by: aaarmstr | January 19, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

These are the kind of moves that needed to be made 2-3 years ago, to compile a roster that, at minimum, included a core of competent (if mediocre) talent, fleshed out with a few good players. That way the Nats would have been competitive while they waited for the farm system to kick in. Even though it's a little late, it's still a good idea to do it now.

Look at it this way: their starting rotation is likely going to be comprised of five guys who would all grade out at average or slightly below average at the big league level. It will also be the best starting rotation this team's had since the first year, and it's got more depth than that one.

It may seem like it, but that's progress. Now the next starts are for Strasburg to come back, J. Zimm and Storen to step up, a couple of the hot young pitchers to develop quickly, Harper to get here fast and for Espinosa, Lombardozzi, Ramos, Norris, etc., to come through. Then we should see a real team, maybe sooner than we think.

Posted by: baltova1 | January 19, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

BTW, peri, I agree with you (shocking, I know). Four guys over the 40-man roster limit smells like a trade to me, too. Just don't know what kind of trade.

Posted by: baltova1 | January 19, 2011 2:45 PM | Report abuse

These are the kind of moves that needed to be made 2-3 years ago, to compile a roster that, at minimum, included a core of competent (if mediocre) talent, fleshed out with a few good players. That way the Nats would have been competitive while they waited for the farm system to kick in. Even though it's a little late, it's still a good idea to do it now.

Posted by: baltova1 |

----------------------------

Yep. That's the difference between having a real GM and JimBo.

Great news about Hairston. Feel a lot better with him in the utility role than Cora. The Coffey signing is nice, too. Not only does it add depth to the bullpen, but it makes the fight for starter spots more intense. They know that the bullpen isn't just going to be filled up with guys who couldn't make the rotation in ST.

Posted by: js_edit | January 19, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

It does smell like a trade, but we're not 4 men over yet. I guess we can also return one or both of the Rule 5 guys on the roster?
I wonder how Cora feels about us signing Hairston? yeterday he had to feel he had a good shot to make the team, and his $900,000. Now, it got a lot slimmer.
It looks like Cora or Gonzalez has got to go. Both are Boras clients (whatever that's worth).
I'd prefer Gonzalez.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 19, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Like I always say, what's almost good enough for the Yankees is good enough for us.

Posted by: tailwagger | January 19, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

>>Have fun watching those O's.Posted by: aaarmstr

If the Os can get thru the April Gauntlett (Tampa Bay, Yankees twice, Red Sox, Texas, White Sox, Tigers---seriously does the sked maker hate orange or what??!!) at or around .500 without getting their heads blown off, then B-More should turn out to be one of the leagues nice surprises this season. They've got great young arms and a great back-end of the bullpen. Should be interesting.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | January 19, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

.esroM ,netalS ,yeffoC ,notsriaH ,aroC

.retsor AAAA ytilauq a gnidliub era slanitaN eht ekil skooL

.........snilraM dna ,seillihP ,sevarB eht tsniaga etepmoc ll'tahT

esuba tropeR | MP 42:2 1102 ,91 yraunaJ | POOPCM YPOOP :yb detsoP

THAT'S JUST BACKWARD THINKING, POOP!

Posted by: KilgoreQTrout | January 19, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

As Maddy like to say the O's might arguably have the best outfield in baseball ... and they do have starting pitching prospects that began to come through for them last year.

I'm just very fond of Angelos (and his TV monopoly) and his pal the governator of Balllimer William Donald Schafer.

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 3:10 PM | Report abuse

In the above I was being cynical of course.

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Poopy McFail.

Has a nice ring to it don't you think?

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

>>I'm just very fond of Angelos (and his TV monopoly) and his pal the governator of Balllimer William Donald Schafer.Posted by: periculum

Look, most everyone hates Angelos. But if you limit your pro sports rooting to teams whose owner you like, well you'll find yourself a pretty lonely person, DC teams most definitely included.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | January 19, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Soooooo basically we're giving the catching job back to Pudge, i mean i don't have a problem with that except i was hoping that they would give Flores a legit shot at the starting catcher's slot.

Posted by: dargregmag | January 19, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse

"periculum, aren't the Nats more athletic and better defensively now than they were last season? It seems to me that the offense may actually be better with Werth and LaRoche (or at least more consistent, predictable). The Nats are adding pitching and are either creating competition or inventory (for another trade--thus, the Coffey signing). I like it ATC. And the trades for pitching might not be over yet. What do you think?"

Looking forward (with fingers crossed) to 2012 and beyond. An outfield that includes Bryce Harper, Eury Perez, Jayson Werth, and Corey Brown might be grabbing the ring finally after going around so many times. Speed, athleticism, solid power, good arms and fielding (hopefully in the case of Perez), good mix of left and right handed hitting. Its looking like Rizzo is building his model.

LaRoche might be here longer ... unless they draft a top first bagger near the top of the draft (seems unlikely given the arms)
or they sign Pujols. (That would be schweeeet!) But yes the infield certainly is younger, faster, more athletic and should hit better to boot.

The catching situation has improved dramatically, night and day over last year.

They've done well adding relief pitching. The Nats, Syracuse, and Harrisburg should have great bullpens.


Basically, the Nats need 2 things really.

1. To remain reasonably injury free. They are second to the A's according to fangraphs for time spent on the DL. First for pitchers. NOT GOOD. That definitely has to change.

2. To find/acquire/develop real top of the rotation starting pitching ... even Stras must now be considered an unknown
quantity until we see how he looks post-TJ. This has to be
Rizzo's first priority and main focus. They have to get more
starts, more quality starts and hopefully lower FIP from the
pitching staff to keep Doubleswitch at bay.

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Peri and Balt, I am with you a trade does seem likely, but the $64,000 question is what position? My thinking is they go after a CF or more starting pitching.
Two names that fit that bill are Joba and Kemp. Kemp would be a perfect fit; an outfield of Harper, Kemp, and Worth would epic. Joba could be the perfect 3rd starter once SS is back. A rotation of SS, Zimm, Joba, Maya, Livo would be fun to watch.

Posted by: hansenjo | January 19, 2011 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Just read how Cashman has distanced himself from the Soriano signing, saying he didn't want to spend that kind of money on a set up man but Hal Steinbrenner did. Cashman was not even involved in the contract negotiations.
He also really did not want to give up their first round draft choice, and give it to Tampa Bay to boot.
This is classic, and spectacular, Scott Boras strategy. Deal with the owner, not with the baseball guys. baseball guys are smart, owners are filthy rich.
Boras is in a class by himself.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 19, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"A rotation of SS, Zimm, Joba, Maya, Livo would be fun to watch."

This is probably Livo's last year as a starter at least. There are too many right handers no left handers.

Remember, Gorzelanny is left handed. It may be that the Pirates almost wrecked the guy. They aren't the best organization in baseball by a long shot. The same might be true for Barthmaier.

Strasburg will have a hard limit on his pitch count and innings pitched. In other words: he will get shut down early. He will not pitch 200 innings in 2012. Look at Tom Gorzelanny's stats. Look at what happened to him after he had a break out year pitching 200ip without requisite preparation. Nats management will not risk further set backs to Stephen Strasburg.

So, in 2012 if all things go reasonably well as planned: Zimmermann should be #2 starter (hopefully fully recovered). Strasburg (recovering/rehabbing) #3/#4, Maya #3/#4, Gorzelanny #4/#5, then Detwiler/Milone/Solis #5.

(Yes, I expect John Lannan to be traded while he still has
a modicum of some.)

The question is who will be that #1 starter? This is what Rizzo was thinking when he went after Lee and Grienke ... and others as well assuredly. He needs to fill that #1 slot until (like Lincecum, Cain, and others) he has 2 years or so to develop in the majors. It cannot be Livan Herandez. It absolutely cannot and must not be Livan Hernandez.

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

"Just read how Cashman has distanced himself from the Soriano signing, saying he didn't want to spend that kind of money on a set up man but Hal Steinbrenner did. Cashman was not even involved in the contract negotiations."

What a fool Steinbrenner is! He just set up Tampa Bay (might be last year for this kind of draft (and its one of the deepest and richest in recent memory) to be uber competitive for the next decade! Along with Boston and even the O's appear to be improving. It would be hilarious to see the Spankees in last place in a year or so ... ;)

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

"I was informed that RHP J.D. Martin is expected to be taken off the 40-man roster."

JD Martin might get claimed ...

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 4:02 PM | Report abuse

We're having a very good January. Hope it keeps up.

Posted by: Arkymark | January 19, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Bye bye JD. I do hope they bring you back to be the SYR ace again if no one claims you!

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what, if anything, Rizzo is going to announce next, but this is shaping up to be an interesting spring training. We might have 30 guys in camp that are legit MLB players.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 19, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Looks like one roster spot is freed up. Unconditional release.

Posted by: js_edit | January 19, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

nice... hairston >>> cora

Posted by: DCPowerGator | January 19, 2011 5:11 PM | Report abuse

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