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Hafner Distracted By Contract Situation?

Jim Ingraham of The Morning Journal out of Cleveland offers some thoughts on Travis Hafner's season-long slump.  Pronk is hitting .257/.401/.432 on the season.  He's walking more than ever, but the .432 SLG is a far cry from his usual .600 mark.

Ingraham believes Hafner has been distracted this year, with his contract situation weighing on his mind.  According to Ingraham's sources, Hafner was either offered 5/70 or 4/60 from the Indians in the early weeks of the season.  Was he offended by the offer? 

Even as a DH, Hafner should be worth around $18-19MM a year over the next few seasons (according to Baseball Prospectus).  Only in 2010 is he expected to drop into the $13MM range.  So Hafner has a right to expect significantly more than $14-15MM annually, even if he's offense-only.  The Tribe may be using David Ortiz's 4/52 contract as a benchmark, but that was signed before the 2006 season.   

According to BP, Hafner's top comparable is Willie McCovey.  Decline definitely set in for McCovey around his age 33 season.  Boog Powell is also high on the list; he also dropped off in his early 30s.  Fred McGriff, Carlos Delgado, Mo Vaughn...this is why the Indians are reluctant to pay top dollar long-term for a player of Hafner's type.

Hafner is incredibly underpaid at $3.75MM this season and $4.75MM in 2008.  He signed the deal in March of 2005, probably looking to set himself up for life with only one full season in the books.  You can't blame him for signing, but it has to feel a little unfair right now.  Unfortunately the best business decision for the Tribe might be to just let him play out his contract. 

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yes, I do think he is big-time distracted by the uncertainty of the future. The game has gone from "fun" to "job" when all of a sudden everyone is talking about how much you could possibly make in the coming future... He's from a super small town, something like 25 in his graduating class and this has to be the most confusing thing in the world to him.

I too have heard the rumors of his supposed offer, but it doesn’t make sense because both sides said they didn’t want to talk during the season. They also said it with Westbrook, but Jake seemed to be the one initiating the talks more than the FO on that one.

Hafner being a smalltown guy making more than he ever dreamed and saying he wants to stay where he is says that a huge “that’s what the bidding wars would push it up to” type contract probably isn’t needed. I think he would be thrilled at something like Thome was offered with of course a dollar difference ~ ie about 5/60 and lifetime contract with the team if when he retires with an extremely limited trade clause. I could also see maybe a higher contract with some money differed in an effort for the team to be able to keep CC at the same time.

He would probably be happy just to have it done with…

Oh and I didn’t mean the “confusing thing to him” part as though he is stupid but rather to mean along the lines of “wow, what do I do when all of a sudden I could be making that kind of money after never dreaming of it” kind of way…

Darkstar...

If what you are saying is correct...You are lucky to have a player that loyal to your team.

Aramis took a lot less to stay with the Cubs...but he still got a big raise. 5\60 would be a good contract for the Indians...as would anything like it.

I would hope that "extremely limited trade clause" would be of the non-deceptive nature.

hehehe Joe...I imagine it would pretty much be a full no trade clause with him being informed and involved with any deal if its ever discussed outside the organization.

Yeah, Hafner has made those “want to be here” claims in the past ~ who knows it if holds true in the face of millions being thrown at him by other teams (Thome I'm looking at you) but it seems like it may ~ did for Salmon in Anaheim. He is also playing his way out of a bigger deal now though so that too will bring his value down and he might be even more willing to take that money from Cleveland if it was really offered...

There is technically nothing wrong with his swing at all ~ there is no mechanical problem creating the loss of power. Some of it has to do with a ton of bad luck, but it still barley begins to scratch the number drop. It all has to be in his head, and many Tribe fans feel that the deal needs to be done fast if he is ever going to come out of the funk...

"He signed the deal in March of 2005, probably looking to set himself up for life with only one full season in the books. You can't blame him for signing," ... so far you hit it on the head.

But if he took lifetime security in 2005, then he can't bitch in 2007. Think he'd be offering the money back if he fell on his face?

Me neither.

Hafner is grossly underpaid but it's his own fault if he turned down the rumored 5/70m or 4/60m.

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