Yankees Acquire Utilityman Jerry Hairston Jr.

The
Deal
The first-place Yankees shipped 20-year-old catcher Chase Weems to the Reds in an attempt to bolster their bench depth. Their return: do-it-all man Jerry Hairston Jr.

With center fielder Brett Gardner out of action after suffering a broken thumb last week, and with Cody Ransom struggling, Yankees manager Joe Girardi sought a dependable bench player.

Though it wasn’t the big splash some New York fans would have expected, Hairston should have an immediate impact in a utility role for the Yankees. The 33-year-old was batting .254/.305/.397 with a career-high eight home runs in 86 games for the Reds. He has played every outfield position this year, as well as every non-first base infield position, with his time most concentrated at third and shortstop. 

Hairston was likely made dispensable by the fact that the Reds knew they would be trading for the Blue Jays’ Scott Rolen. Cincinnati needed to make room for the Gold Glove third baseman. Though the Yankees indicated they would likely send down one of their 13 pitchers, Cody Ransom, another utility player who has struggled this year, might be the odd man out.

The Young
Player
Weems ranked as the Yankees fifth-best catching prospect prior to the season, though the organization features unusual depth at the position. A sixth-round pick in 2007 from Columbus (Ga.) High, he could have been drafted as high as the third round, but signability concerns caused him to fall, and the Yankees picked and signed him for an above-slot $450,000. In 55 games for low Class A Charleston, Weems was hitting .260/.317/.347 with one home run and 14 RBIs, to go along with 10 doubles.

Weems was considered an offensive player, though he struggled in his first full professional season last year, hitting .220/.340/.317 with six extra-base hits between two levels. Still, the lefthanded hitter has seemed to turn it around this year, and has gotten hot of late. Weems has a longer swing, but he has cut down on it a little but this year. Defensively he has a strong arm, which may be his best tool, but he has difficulty controlling the intricacies behind the plate, such as receiving and blocking. He’s an athletic player, but won’t steal many bases. Some scouts have questioned whether Weems will stay behind the plate.

Quick
Take
Hairston is a jack-of-all trades type player who should fit nicely into the Yankees’ core as they push for the postseason. The Reds pick up a young player at a premium position, someone they can afford time to develop. Though New York internally liked Weems, he was available because of the glut of catchers in the team’s minor league system.

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