Wednesday night the Chicago Cubs signed Scott Hairston to a two-year contract worth "up to $6 million," which answered at least one of my questions about the St. Louis Cardinals' two-year contract with Ty Wigginton. Engendered many, many more questions? Well, sure. But it answered this one: Is there ever a situation in which it makes sense to a sign a thirtysomething bench/platoon bat to a two-year deal worth several times the league minimum?
Well, yes, as it turns out. Scott Hairston is exactly the right-handed, power-hitting bench bat the Cardinals acted like they had with Wigginton: He's a career .247/.302/.449 hitter with a very useable .276/.325/.500 split against left-handers, and he's coming off a (relatively) big season.
The only difference? His teams conceded much earlier than Wigginton's did to the reality that he isn't really a second or third baseman. Instead he's played what looks like an above-average outfield, including some work in center. Also, he can hit, and Wigginton can't.
It's hard for me to come up with any rationalization for choosing Wigginton at 2/5 over Hairston at 2/6—but then, it was just as hard for me to come up with rationalization for choosing Wigginton at any price over anyone else. I'm not sure what value Hairston provides to a Cubs team that doesn't look ready to compete, but at least he provides value.
At Bleed Cubbie Blue, the early reaction is subdued-shading-positive. I think.