Washington Nationals Acquire Scott Hairson: Who Gets the Boot?

Rob Grabowski- USA TODAY Sports

As Washington Nationals fans basked in the joys of the team’s three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres and seeing the Atlanta Braves‘ lead shrink to four games, Washington made a deal.

It was a small deal, as Washington acquired outfielder Scott Hairston from the Chicago Cubsalong with a player to be named later on both ends, for Single-A pitcher Ivan Pineyro. Hairston is known for being a role guy, who can come off the bench and can absolutely mash lefties. In his first season of a two-year deal with Chicago, Hairston is batting .172/.232/.434 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs after a .263/.299/.504, 20 home run, 57 RBI season with the New York Mets, where we saw him hit 11 home runs off of left handers.

This year, it’s a lot of the same for Hairston, as all eight of his home runs have come off lefties, even if his averages don’t reflect it. He is signed past 2013, so the deal is a Mike Rizzo special: every move he makes is for this year and beyond. Hairston’s right handed pop will be more than welcomed, especially on a team that bats .218 against left handed pitchers as a whole.

We all know what Hairston brings to Washington, but his arrival brings a bigger question to the Nationals, which is this: what will happen to Washington’s bench?

Currently, Washington has Steve Lombardozzi, Chad Tracy, Roger Bernadina, Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Moore on the bench, otherwise known as the “Goon Squad,” a name Tracy brought to Washington and a squad that has had many names join it. With Hairston set to join the Goon Squad, someone will have to go. It’s pretty safe, in my eyes, to eliminate Suzuki, Tracy and Lombardozzi from the list of names that could go, because they have been relatively consistent all season for Washington.

Moore has already been demoted once, and Bernadina has no options left. Bernadina has probably stuck with the team thus far because of his defense, because his bat (.182/.248/.285) has been pretty much non existent. Sure, he brings left handed balance to the bench, as Davey Johnson has two lefties and two righties on the bench, along with one switch hitter to choose from. At some point, however, Washington needs to cut ties with Bernadina because he’s become essentially an automatic out when he pinch hits, and an automatic 0-3 or 0-4 when he gets a starting nod.

Moore could be sent down, as the key to his success last season, as we have established, was because of having his play the beginning of the year in Triple-A. The Chris Marrero  injury obviously simplified things, because Moore was able to get regular at-bats in Triple-A. With Marrero back healthy and hitting, things become much more complicated because Moore would probably need to be sent to Double-A, or Marrero and Moore would platoon, or play Moore regularly in the outfield. Like I said, it would be complicated.

I think it’s about 95 percent safe to say the Hairston acquisition means the end of Bernadina in Washington. Rizzo would have to designate him for assignment, and I am not too sure he would pass through waivers, as plenty of teams would love to give a 27-year-old outfielder a chance.

This much is true: Washington needed to upgrade their bench. Bringing in a bat that mashes lefties is definitely an upgrade. Sadly, it will mean the end for another player.

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