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Oakland Athletics Acquire Scott Hairston

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Oakland Athletics Press Release:

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland A's acquired outfielder Scott Hairston from the San Diego Padres in exchange for minor league pitchers Ryan Webb and Craig Italiano plus a player to be named later, the club announced today. Hairston is expected to join the A's Monday in Boston.

Scott Hairston has had a career year so far this year for the Padres, and Kevin Towers sold high.  Hairston's career began to pick up last year in San Diego.  In his time with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2004-2007), Hairston accrued 599 PAs.  In his two significant stints, 2004 and 2007, Hairston put up wOBAs of .312 and .295.  However, after changing positions (from 2B to the corner outfield) and a move to San Diego midseason in 2007, Hairston's career has taken off in the apparently friendly confines of PETCO Park.  Since the trade, Hairston has turned it on and become a force with the bat.  In 667 PAs with San Diego, Hairston has been 21 runs above average with the bat.  Combining that with solid outfield defense (+3 UZR in 665 CF innings, +8 UZR in 1033 LF innings), Hairston's been worth a substantial 5.1 WAR in his short time with San Diego.

Looking at Hairston going forward, it is likely that his offensive numbers will improve upon leaving the spacious PETCO Park.  Still, it would be unlikely for Hairston to maintain his current 2009 wOBA of .398.  The Rest of Season ZiPS projection for Hairston expects a .343 wOBA the rest of the way, worth roughly 2.5 offensive runs.  Given what we know, a fair assumption would be for Hairston's offensive value to fall within the 0 to +7.5 range.  The most likely scenario for the Athletics, at least short term, is that Hairston replaces Travis Buck in right field.  Perhaps, Hairston replaces Ryan Sweeney in CF.  Hairston also could be the plan to replace Matt Holliday if a trade is imminent.  Either way, Hairston appears to be in the +2.5 to +7.5 range as a corner outfielder and in the -2.5 to +5 range as a CF.  It would then be fair to peg Hairston's defensive value as ranging from -2.5 to +7.5.

Worst case scenario, then, Hairston is worth 2.5 runs below average, and is a 1.75 win player.  Best case, Hairston is probably a +15 run player, and is worth roughly 3.5 wins per 600 plate appearances.  At 29, Hairston is not likely to turn any more major corners in his career.  Still, Hairston will only be entering his second year of arbitration next year, and having only received 1.25M in his first year, he will likely be a cheap asset being paid far less than his value on the free agent market.  Although Billy Beane may have broken one of the cardinal rules of trading and "bought high", it is unlikely that Hairston will disappoint, given his strong defensive track record and his very strong last 3 years in the strongest of all pitcher's parks. 

Given the likely value of the next two years of Scott Hairston, the assets received by the Padres would have to be quite strong to warrant the trade.  The two prospects sent by Beane are RHP Ryan Webb and RHP Craig Italiano.  Webb, a 23-year-old AAA player, has a 3.66 FIP in 47 innings at AAA, thanks to a 7.5 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, and a very low (likely unsustainably low) HR/9 of 0.5  .  Italiano is a hard thrower who struggles with his command.  In his 80 innings with High-A Stockton, Italiano has walked 40 batters along with 75 strikeouts and a quite good 0.68 HR/9.  Italiano, with his strikeout and walk numbers both high, appears to be on a track to be a relief pitcher.  Webb, based on his minor league track record, appears to be a back-end of the rotation starter.  While these can be valuable pieces, it seems unlikely to me that they can equal the kind of production that Hairston is likely to put up in his next two cost-controlled years.  Beane appears to have made out quite well with this deal, unless the PTBNL ends up being a major prospect.  Whether this deal is made to bolster the outfield for the future or to allow for a Matt Holliday deal, the A's have acquired a useful asset.  San Diego succeeded in shedding 1.25 million dollars in salary, but I'm not sure the minor leaguers they picked up will equal the level of production that Hairston has showed he is capable of.