The price was right, evidently:

Free agent Jerry Hairston Jr. is returning to the Cincinnati Reds. A baseball source told that Hairston and the club agreed to terms on a one-year contract worth a guaranteed $2 million on Tuesday. It’s an incentive laden deal that could be worth up to $4 million.

An announcement is expected on Wednesday. The Royals and Cardinals were the other teams competing for Hairston’s services.

It appears that Cincinnati plans to make Hairston its starting shortstop this season because Alex Gonzalez won’t be ready.

I’m glad that Hairston is returning, especially at that price. As a utility guy, he’s handy to have around. There is absolutely no chance whatsoever of Hairston putting up the same numbers he had in limited action last year, but he’s versatile. I’ll take it.

I am concerned, however, about the prospect of Hairston being our starting shortstop. With serious questions about the defensive abilities of Ramon Hernandez and Willy Taveras, the Reds are looking pretty poor up the middle right now.