The Brewers weren’t done upgrading their infield depth with the trade for Felipe Lopez. Doug Melvin struck again Saturday morning, this time dealing for uber-utility man Jerry Hairston from the Washington Nationals. In return, the Brewers sent 23-year-old Double-A outfielder Erik Komatsu back to the Nationals.
Hairston has incredible versatility, recording at least 70 career games at every position on the field except for first base, pitcher, and catcher. For the most part, he has a good defensive reputation everywhere he goes, and the defensive metrics at FanGraphs find him to be average or slightly above most everywhere he’s played on aggregate.
His bat should be useful as well. Hairston managed a .268/.342/.385 line with the Nationals, just above the league average when adjusted for park (102 wRC+). Although he’ll probably regress a bit, given his relative struggles the last two seasons (.710 OPS and .652 OPS respectively), his ability to get on base should prevent the lineup from turning to molasses after the top four or five hitters. ZiPS projects a very respectable .270/.333/.410 line down the stretch, with the extra power possible with his move from cavernous Nationals Park to the homer-friendly Miller Park.
The cost for the Brewers was intriguing 23-year-old outfielder Erik Komatsu. Komatsu was the owner of a tremendous .393 on-base percentage at Double-A Huntsville, but he doesn’t offer much in terms of power, with a .416 SLG and only six home runs. Komatsu would be a very, very compelling prospect if he had the glove to play center field. Unfortunate, the all-but-universal consensus is that he will be limited to the corners, which not only vastly limits his major league usefulness, but also means he’s very much blocked in the Brewers organization. Obviously, there’s Ryan Braun and Corey Hart at the MLB level for the foreseeable future, but the organization also has two more advanced corner outfield prospects in Logan Schafer and Caleb Gindl. As Doug Melvin told Adam McCalvy:
“We like Eric, but we have Schafer and Gindl ahead of him, obviously, because they are at Triple-A,” Melvin said. “Schafer and Gindl have the ability to play center field, too. Erik is a good hitter, a compact swing, and we hate to give him up. But there’s a little bit of depth for us with having [Ryan] Braun and [Corey] Hart, still having Gomez and having Nyjer Morgan with us next year. We probably dealt from depth.
It’s difficult to argue with that. For the Nationals, the deal makes sense as Hairston is due to be a free agent at the end of the year and Komatsu has potential at the Major League level. For the Brewers, they dealt from a position of strength into a position of great weakness. Hairston is a pretty clear upgrade to the Major League club, and could add as much as a full win down the stretch, and maybe more if it means the end of Yuniesky Betancourt in the starting lineup.
Brett Carroll was designated for assignment to clear room for Hairston.