The New York Yankees have found their replacement for Raul Ibanez, they hope. Travis Hafner and the Yankees have agreed to a deal which will make him the designated hitter against right-handed pitching.
Hafner was once considered one of the best hitters in baseball before injuries derailed him. He has played in more than 100 games only once since 2008 when he appeared in 110 in 2010. He has not played in the field since he made 11 appearances at first base in 2007 so there is no way he will be placed in the field as a Yankee which will limit Joe Girardi’s options.
The Yankees needed a replacement for Raul Ibanez who signed with the Seattle Mariners. Hafner was a logical choice due to his lefty bat, his willingness to sign a one-year deal and overall cost. It is believed that Hafner’s deal is just under $2 million guaranteed with more money available through incentives. The Cleveland Indians wisely bought out Hafner rather than pay him $13 million this season, making him a free agent.
If, and this is a big if, Hafner can stay healthy he could provide a nice bat with some power, especially with the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium. However, given Hafner’s health history, that might be asking a lot. If Hafner gets hurt they should be able to revert back to using the DH as a revolving rest area for the aging players on the team. Last season, Hafner appeared in 66 games and hit .228/.346/.438 with 12 home runs and 34 RBI. In 2011, Hafner appeared in 94 games and hit .280/.361/.449 so there is still some pop in his bat. Hitting in a lineup like the Yankees’ should help Hafner’s statistics.
This was a good move by the Yankees, a low-risk-high-reward type deal that Brian Cashman likes to make these days. Hafner should be able to pick up the slack from Ibanez’s departure and be productive hitting towards the bottom of the lineup. As long as he stays healthy.