The Battle for Scott Hairston

The Yankees and Mets face off for Hairston in our offseason of austerity

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    No matter the borough, Hairston fills a need.

    Scott Hairston had a very good 2012 season. 

    He hit 20 homers, had a slugging percentage north of .500 and hammered lefty pitching well enough to be one of the most valuable position players on last year's Mets team. That may be something like being one of the slimmest Sumo wrestlers, but it is enough to make him a hot commodity in New York this offseason. 

    The free agent outfielder is being pursued by both the Mets and Yankees to fill their gaping needs for right-handed bats in the outfield corners this summer. Other teams are interested as well and the Yankees aren't thought to be a frontrunner, all of which makes him a pretty good symbol for this New York baseball offseason. 

    For very different reasons, both the Mets and Yankees have played the role of cash-strapped parents. With the exception of R.A. Dickey, old things have been retained (David Wright, the Yankee starters) and the hand-me-downs are just going to have to stretch a little further because it isn't the year to be buying new shoes for everybody. 

    The Mets have an overall organizational direction that fits with avoiding big cash expenditures, but the Yankees' stance makes a little less sense. They just dropped StubHub! as a partner because they want to ensure ticket prices remain at a high enough level to get people to buy directly from the team -- which should raise revenues -- yet they won't spend that money to actually improve the product. 

    That leads us to the team's desire to avoid spending money in 2014, a strategy that seemed sounder in recent offseasons when the rest of the league avoided the kind of aging, limited players the Yankees have been putting to good use. Those players aren't in large supply this year because, as with most exploitable loopholes, others have seen the value in building their teams that way. 

    Hairston's ability to be so choosy at this point illustrates that fact and it could push the Yankees into a different direction if they really want to land the bat they need to bolster their lineup. One such avenue could be a trade for Michael Morse of the Nationals, although reasonably priced players coming off 31-homer seasons tend to draw plenty of interest and plenty of teams have more to offer than the Yankees in a trade. 

    The Mets don't need Hairston to bolster their lineup. They need him to anchor it, but the fact that they are trying to get him as cheap as possible on a one-year deal says plenty about where they are as an organization right now. 

    As does the fact that Carl Pavano is on their radar as a rotation piece. Maybe he was just in the wrong borough last time. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.