"That's the move we were waiting to make," said Rizzo, Washington's general manager. "We felt good about the left-handed side of our bench, and just wanted a little bit more pop on the right side, a guy who can handle some left-handed pitching."
Hairston hit just .172 in 52 games with the Cubs, but managed to hit eight homers in 99 at-bats. Hairston is a .244 lifetime hitter, and Johnson said he remembers Hairston hitting a few homers against his teams.
The Nationals manager added Hairston is "the kind of player we need."
"We have a pretty set lineup, but we need a veteran presence on the bench, not some youngster," Johnson said. "And he knows pitchers and he knows what he needs to do to be able to hit."
Hairston comes from a family with a rich baseball history, and Washington is the sixth different stop in his Major League career. Due to some travel issues, Hairston was a little late arriving to Philadelphia, where the Nationals opened a four-game series Monday. Tyler Moore was sent down to Triple-A to make room for Hairston.
Johnson did not have Hairston in the lineup Monday, but said he planned on giving him a start against the Phillies, whom Hairston has had success against during his career. Hairston has a .307 batting average and 12 homers in 45 games against Philadelphia, and has a .400 average, five homers and five doubles against Cole Hamels, Tuesday's starter.
Rizzo said the Nationals had been in talks with the Cubs for a few weeks, but it was no coincidence the deal got done when it did.
"If we were going to do the deal, we wanted to do the deal at this particular time," Rizzo said.
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.