Wednesday, January 30, 2013
NEW YORK—The Yankees have expressed interest in free-agent slugger Travis Hafner, as the club is looking toward the remaining late-winter options for its designated hitter slot.
Hafner, 35, batted .228 with 12 home runs and 34 RBIs in 64 games for the Indians last season, and is among a group of players the Yankees are looking at to serve in a DH role.
Cleveland cut ties with Hafner in October, choosing to pay the left-handed hitter a $2.75 million buyout instead of a $13 million option for the 2013 season, but the Indians and Hafner are believed to have remained in contact.
Hafner, the owner of 201 home runs over 11 seasons, has not played the field in a big league game since 2007. As a full-time DH with the Yankees, he would essentially fill the role envisioned last season for Raul Ibanez.
Hafner hasn’t been able to stay healthy and he can’t play defense at all, but the Yankees could use a lefty DH and he’s about as good of an option as any that would be available on their terms. He’s not the power hitter that led the AL in OPS+ a few years back but he still projects to get on base at a good clip and may be well-positioned to take advantage of a disgraceful bandbox. Here are his CAIRO percentile forecasts in said disgraceful bandbox.
If he can stay healthy, he probably gets a few more than those 310 baseline PAs. Here are his projected platoon splits for wOBA.
|%||wOBA vs L||wOBA vs R|
I have no idea who the Yankees would use at DH if they don’t sign Hafner. The best option is probably Russ Canzler who projects to have a wOBA of .315 vs RHP. Over 400 PA, the difference between that .315 wOBA and Hafner’s .364 projection vs. RHP would be worth close to 17 runs.
I’d like to see them sign Hafner but keep Canzler as well since he has more positional flexibility (as in more than none). I’m not sure the Yankees will do that though. But I’d be cool with Pronk for one year in the $5M area.
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