Detroit Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski squashed rumors that his team had offered free agent outfielder Scott Hairston a two year contract. The free agent from the New York Mets is one of the targets of several teams during the MLB’s annual Winter Meetings.
The Tigers are already busy trying to re-sign free agent pitcher Anibal Sanchez and also trade Brennan Boesch. Finding an insurance outfielder is apparently a priority for the Tigers as well. The Tigers have eight of their nine position battles settled, with left field the only role that is really up for grabs, barring any trades or huge free agent signings.
The Tigers are being linked to Hairston, who played in 134 games in the 2012 season. The versatile outfielder played center field (34), right field (48), left field (59) and also was a pinch hitter for the Mets last year. The slugger had 99 hits, 20 home runs and 57 RBIs during the 2012 season. Hairston also had eight stolen bases, while hitting .263 for the year. Hairston is a career .247 hitter.
Over his career, Hairston has played for the Mets, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics. The outfielder was drafted in the third round of the 2001 MLB Draft by the Diamondbacks. Hairston attended Canyon del Oro High School and Central Arizona College. Ian Kinsler was a teammate of Hairston’s in both high school and college.
If I’m Dombrowski, I am sitting tight on outfielders at the Winter Meetings. I would be more worried about getting pitching help. Austin Jackson will start in center field and newly acquired Torii Hunter is starting in right field. The left field position will most likely go to Avisail Garcia. This leaves Andy Dirks, Quintin Berry and rookie prospect Nick Castellanos as all potential outfielder substitutes. Dirks has proven himself over the last couple of years and could actually win the starting role with no surprise. Berry was named the Tigers Rookie of the Year and also their Tenth Man of the Year. Castellanos was moved to the outfield from third base, as he had Miguel Cabrera blocking his path to the majors.
Dombrowski has said that ideally the Tigers will find an outfielder who will sign a one year deal, which will be an insurance policy to the group of outfielders. Hairston is not a backup outfielder and the Tigers would have to overpay for him during the current meetings. Dombrowski should wait and see how the outfield battle shakes out during Spring Training.