New York Yankees: Would Adding Travis Hafner Be a Wise Move for Bombers in 2013?

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IJanuary 31, 2013

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 19: Travis Hafner #48 of the Cleveland Indians reaches first on an error during the fourth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field on September 19, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

On Wednesday, we found out the Yankees are interested in Travis Hafner.

The 35-year-old has spent the last 10 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, although the last two have been riddled with injuries.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com broke the news first that the Yankees were getting close to a deal for the longtime Indian:

Hearing #Yankees might be close to deal with Travis Hafner

— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) January 30, 2013

The Yankees have been very inactive this offseason, and have even let some of their own key players from 2012 walk away via free agency.

One of them was their DH from a year ago, Raul Ibanez, who played such a crucial role for the Yankees in the postseason, hitting three clutch home runs that either tied or won a game.

But with Ibanez heading back to the Seattle Mariners, the Yankees need firepower for their offense, which is why talking to Hafner makes sense.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and WFAN confirmed that the Yankees were in fact talking to Hafner, but were looking at other options for the DH spot:

 #yankees are talking travis hafner (as @bradfo said), as well as others.

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— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 30, 2013

In 2012, Hafner hit just .228 with 12 home runs and 34 RBI in just 66 games for Cleveland, while playing mostly at the DH spot.

It has yet to be determined whether Hafner would get a major league deal with guaranteed money, or if the Yankees are looking to add him on with a minor league deal and invite him in for spring training.

According to David Waldstein of the New York Times, no deal is imminent yet between the Bombers and Hafner, as they continue to explore all other options.

Is Hafner the best option right now for the Yankees for their DH spot?

Given what is out on the market right now, I'd have to say yes.

Granted, I am very hesitant about bringing in a player who hasn't played a full season since 2007, which I made very clear in the story I wrote when the Yankees were first reported to have an interest in Hafner.

But the Yankees generally like to use their DH spot to rotate guys such as Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira to give them partial days off from the field.

However, given the fact that the Yankees need a power bat in their lineup, and especially someone who once could average anywhere between 30-40 home runs and 100-110 RBI during a season, Hafner could benefit from playing at Yankee Stadium.

We all know Yankee Stadium is built for left-handed power hitters due to the short porch in right field, so maybe Hafner's career would be rejuvenated by playing in the Bronx.

Aside from the power aspect of his game, Hafner can be a patient hitter and draw walks. He also owns a career .381 on-base percentage, which fits the Yankees mold of grinding down pitchers into the later innings and getting better pitches to hit.

Plus, with all of the other options out there for a DH candidate, Hafner is probably the most attractive one.

Jim Thome is out there, and he could be an option too, but it all depends on where he'd prefer to play in 2013.

And then there are former Yankees Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu, but they are not better options than Hafner right now.

Last season, Hafner made $13 million while playing in Cleveland, a figure that he'll definitely come nowhere close to commanding as a free agent in 2013.

At best, he's looking at a $1-2 million deal from the Yankees, which would be very reasonable if it's a major league offer.

With spring training right around the corner, both Yankees GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi would like to have a feel for what the lineup will look like before they get back to New York in April.

To me, adding Hafner would make a lot of sense for the lineup, but they should continue to see if they can find a right-handed bat for the outfield and bench as well.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.

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