MLB Rumors: New York Yankees Close To Deal With Travis Hafner

By Thom Tsang
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Even with the addition of Kevin Youkilis to take over for Alex Rodriguez in 2013, the New York Yankees could find themselves hurting for the kind of offensive output they’ve been accustomed to over the years, having lost Nick Swisher and Russell Martin‘s combined 45 homers in free agency, and potentially being without Derek Jeter for the start of the season.

That’s an issue that the team will look to address before the start of Spring Training, and they may be close to finding a resolution in veteran DH Travis Hafner:

That was confirmed by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports later, although the team is also said to be talking to others.

Hafner, who is now well into the latter stages of his career at age 35, should give the Yankees an offensive boost at the DH spot over Eduardo Nunez should the two sides come to an agreement. The lefty hitter is one year removed from a .811 OPS season, and still managed a reasonable .784 last year despite hitting just .228 in another year that saw him bogged down by various health issues.

That will be a continued issue that the Yankees would have to manage should they sign him, but there is little doubt that Hafner still has pop in his bat (.210 ISO in ’12), and hitting in Yankee Stadium will cater to that particular skill nicely. On top of the 12 homers he hit over 263 PA in 2012, Hafner also showed that he still has a good eye at the plate, drawing walks at a 12.2 percent rate, good enough for an excellent 0.68 BB/K that ranks him among the top-45 hitters in the game in that regard.

Having been bought out by the Cleveland Indians, Hafner won’t cost nearly as much as his $13 million salary last season for the Yankees. It could turn out to be a good fit for both parties, especially if the team can sign Hafner to a one-year make-good deal to provide a band-aid solution for their A-Rod/Jeter problems, without committing more money to the payroll when it comes time to talk about an extension with Robinson Cano.

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