Melvin: Versatility key to Hairston deal
The Brewers added more coverage for second base and elsewhere on the diamond Saturday by trading for versatile Nationals veteran Jerry Hairston Jr.
The cost was reigning Minor League player of the year Erik Komatsu, a 23-year-old batting .293 with a .393 on-base percentage at Double-A Huntsville this season. The Brewers expected to make another roster move later Saturday to clear a spot on the 25-man roster for Hairston.
Versatility was the key to the trade. Hairston, 35, has played in 75 games this season — 44 at third base, 22 in left field, nine in center field, three at second base and one at shortstop. Lifetime, he’s played second more than any other position — 592 games of 1,223 total — and that’s a position of need at the moment for Milwaukee, which will be without All-Star second baseman Rickie Weeks for 2-6 weeks because of a severe left ankle sprain.
Hairton’s experience in center field is also important. The Brewers are without Carlos Gomez, who underwent surgery for a fractured left collarbone.
“Versatility comes into play with as many injuries as there are in the game today,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. “He can play all over. He has more of a compact [swing] — can drive the ball in the gaps, but he’s more of a guy who will work the count. He hits left-handers good, and the reports are that he’s a great clubhouse guy.”
Hairston also hits at Miller Park. He’s a career .317 hitter there in 63 at-bats.
This season, Hairston is hitting .268 with a .342 on-base percentage and four home runs. He finished last season with 10 home runs and is a career. 258 hitter.
His 2011 contract pays $2 million, and he is a free agent at season’s end.
Melvin has been busy in the wake of Weeks’ injury. On Thursday, the Brewers acquired Felipe Lopez in a cash deal with the Rays, and Lopez started at second base and batted fifth in Friday’s win over the Astros.
The Brewers need a 25-man roster spot for Hairston, but were not considering making a move with veteran infielder Craig Counsell, who was hitless in his last 41 at-bats through an 0-for-3 day Thursday. It’s the longest drought for a position player in franchise history.
In trading Komatsu, the Brewers were dealing from a position of relative strength. Minor League outfielders Caleb Gindl, Komatsu and Logan Schafer all must be added to the 40-man roster in the coming offseason to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft.
“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.
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