Hairston has a career high .352 wOBA this season and is slugging .516 overall. Although he is mostly valued because of his ability to destroy left-handed pitching, he has maintained his power against righties this season. At age 32, Hairston is swinging the bat better than he has ever before in his baseball career.
If there ever was a time to sell high, it would be now. So why are general manager Sandy Alderson and the Mets so intent on holding onto Hairston? Is it just so the team has a better chance of finishing above .500? I don’t think Mets fans care about the team’s record as much as how far back it is in the wild card race.
Maybe Alderson and company are waiting for one team to finally get desperate enough to actually offer something of value. The waiver trade deadline isn’t until August 31, so there’s still plenty of time to drive up Hairston’s price. The going rate for a solid fourth outfielder isn’t normally a prospect that is worth tracking, so why not dangle Hairston as long as possible?
There also remains the possibility that the Mets think it’s worth it to hold onto Hairston and offer him a deal for next season. Maybe even a deal for the next two seasons.
“I do want stability,” Hairston said. “I want to at least have a season where I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to be the next year. So I don’t know what the Mets are going to decide.”
With ESPN’s Buster Olney estimating that Michael Bourn could get as much as $22 million per year this winter, the price for any outfielder is going to be high. Who knows what the price will be to take a gamble on B.J. Upton or Cody Ross. Melky Cabrera is whipping through a career year at just the right time and will likely play himself out of the Mets’ price range.
So why not Hairston? A deal for two years and $10 million would be risky, but justified if he’s able to keep up this level of production. Maybe that type of deal isn’t in the cards for the Mets, but outfield offensive production is a dire needs for them, and any foray into the free agent market will be either very expensive, very risky, or both.