Travis Hafner Rumors

Travis Hafner Agrees To Join College Coaching Staff

Longtime big league slugger Travis Hafner has agreed to join the coaching staff of Division II Notre Dame College, according to reports from Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter) and a press release posted on the school's website. As Cotillo notes, however, it is not yet clear what Hafner's agreement means for his playing career.

The left-handed swinging DH is now 36 years of age. He spent last year in pinstripes, putting up a .202/.301/.378 line and 12 home runs in 299 plate appearances for the Yankees. Hafner's best season at the plate came in 2006, when he put up a monster .308/.439/.659 campaign with 42 long balls to lead the league in slugging and OPS. 

Hafner has not seen time in the field since way back in 2007, which does limit his usefulness to MLB clubs at this stage of his career. His career triple-slash stands at a robust .273/.376/.498 in 4,782 plate appearances, over which he also hit 213 home runs.


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AL Notes: Borbon, Hamilton, Yankees, Indians

Rangers outfielder Julio Borbon describes his future as "a real question mark," Evan Grant of DallasNews.com reports. Texas appears likely to trade Borbon or designate him for assignment, when they add starter Nick Tepesch to their active roster on Tuesday. If the Rangers designate Borbon for assignment, the Astros might claim him, Grant says. Borbon hit .304/.349/.433 for Triple-A Round Rock in 2012. Here are more notes from around the American League.

  • Ranger-turned-Angel C.J. Wilson understands why Rangers fans weren't happy to see fellow former Ranger Josh Hamilton play in Arlington for the Angels this weekend, MLB.com's Lyle Spencer reports. "We're all baseball players," Wilson says. "It's not real life. Sports gives you something to cheer for or boo about. It's your choice. They're not going to cheer for him, obviously." Hamilton signed a five-year, $125MM contract with the Angels in December.
  • The upcoming Yankees-Indians series in Cleveland will be a reunion for both Nick Swisher and Travis Hafner, Zack Meisel of MLB.com reports. "Oh, man, that's going to be the jam," says Swisher, who left New York in the offseason and signed a four-year, $56MM contract with the Indians. Hafner signed a one-year, $2MM contract with the Yankees in February.

Yankees Sign Travis Hafner

4:33pm: Hafner can earn up to $4MM in incentives beyond his $2MM salary, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter).

3:11pm: The Yankees have officially signed Travis Hafner to a one-year, Major League contract. The deal is worth $2MM plus incentives, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The Legacy Agency represents Hafner.

The Yankees plan to use Hafner as a platoon designated hitter who only plays against right-handers, Chad Jennings of the Journal News writes. Hafner, a left-handed hitter, has a career batting line of .287/.391/.534 against right-handed pitching.

Hafner hit free agency after the Indians chose a $2.75MM buyout over a $13MM option earlier in the offseason. The 35-year-old hit .228/.346/.438 with 12 home runs in 263 plate appearances for Cleveland last year. 

Hafner has averaged only 85 games a season over the past five years due of injuries. Despite his past health issues, he drew interest from the Indians this winter. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com first reported the Yankees could be nearing a deal with Hafner and Jennings first reported the agreement.



AL East Notes: Overbay, Hafner, Yankees

The Yankees and Red Sox have had decidedly different offseasons, but their winter plans converged yesterday when both teams added left-handed bats on relatively low-risk deals. The Yankees agreed to sign Travis Hafner and the Red Sox reached a deal with Lyle Overbay. Here’s the latest from the AL East…

  • Hafner chose the Yankees over the Rays, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes (Twitter link). The Rays already have a left-handed hitting designated hitter of their own in Luke Scott.
  • Before the Overbay deal was completed, the Red Sox had a National League team offer to get them Chris Coghlan from the Marlins in a three-way trade, Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports (on Twitter). As Gammons notes, the 27-year-old Coghlan has seen his production diminish annually since winning the 2009 Rookie of the Year award.
  • The Yankees appear to be the third best team in the AL East at this point, Richard Justice of MLB.com writes. However, the division seems so tight that almost any outcome is imaginable, so Justice explains how the Yankees can win again in 2013.

Yankees Talking To Travis Hafner

9:21pm: The Yankees are considering Hafner as a left-handed designated hitter but no deal is imminent, a source tells David Waldstein of the New York Times.  

11:00am: The Yankees are talking to Hafner and others, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com notes (on Twitter).

10:47am: The Yankees might be close to a deal with free agent designated hitter Travis Hafner, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports (on Twitter). The Legacy Agency represents Hafner.

Hafner hit free agency after the Indians chose a $2.75MM buyout over a $13MM option earlier in the offseason. The 35-year-old hit .228/.346/.438 with 12 home runs in 263 plate appearances for Cleveland last year. Hafner, a left-handed hitter, has a career batting line of .287/.391/.534 against right-handed pitching. He also drew interest from the Indians this winter.  

Hafner has averaged only 85 games a season over the past five years due of injuries.


Indians Considering Thome, Hafner

The Indians are looking to add a hitter and could spend modestly to supplement their offense, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. The team is considering a reunion with several former Indians, including Jim Thome and Travis Hafner, Heyman reports. Though there’s been “a hint of buzz” about a reunion with Manny Ramirez, he’s not a consideration. 

The Indians don't have an obvious internal DH option at this point, assuming Mark Reynolds plays first base. GM Chris Antonetti recently acknowledged that Hafner remains an option in Cleveland. Thome, 42, played for the Phillies and Orioles in 2012. He has said he's not retired and would consider playing because he still feels good physically.

Heyman identified former Indians such as Johnny Damon, Casey Kotchman and Grady Sizemore as other potential options for Antonetti. Free agents Aubrey Huff, Luke Scott, Carlos Lee, Jason Giambi and Juan Rivera are also available. Indians designated hitters ranked 11th in the American League with a .226/.317/.385 batting line in 2012.


Indians Notes: Payroll, Hafner, DH, Starting Rotation

The Indians have been very busy during the first days of 2013 officially announcing the free agent signings of Nick Swisher and Brett Myers. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports the team will open the season with a payroll hovering around $66-68MM (not including the $2.75MM buyout of Travis Hafner's 2013 club option and the $3.5MM sent to the Reds in the Shin-Soo Choo trade). As a result, GM Chris Antonetti has said the team's financial resources have been exhausted. The lone remaining hole in the lineup is designated hitter. Bastian says the Tribe could rely on internal options like Mike Aviles, Yan Gomes, Ezequiel Carrera, Tim Fedroff, and Rule 5 selection Chris McGuiness. Even bringing back Hafner is a possibility according to Antonetti, "I think some of that is going to depend upon other opportunities for Travis and his thoughts on returning, as well as what opportunities we may have for him compared to other guys." Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has more news and notes concerning the Indians:

  • Hoynes adds Matt LaPorta to the list of in-house DH options, but says Antonetti could still sign a hitter or bring one in on a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. 
  • Hoynes thinks Delmon Young would look good as the Tribe's DH, but doesn't see it happening at this time because of his asking price and character issues.
  • The Indians will still consider trading Asdrubal Cabrera or Chris Perez, but only if the return is comparable to what they received in the Choo deal.
  • The starting rotation looks like Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Myers, and Zach McAllister. Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco are the leading candidates for the fifth spot.
  • With the flush of spending of this season, does this put extra pressure on the front office to win now? Hoynes doesn't sense any panic in the hallways of power, especially since new manager Terry Francona can opt-out of his deal if certain members of management lose their jobs.

Quick Hits: Red Sox, Indians, Perez, Eaton

It was on this day 40 years ago that the baseball world lost one of its greatest stars.  Following a massive earthquake that devastated the country of Nicaragua, Roberto Clemente helped organize a relief effort for victims of the disaster and accompanied one of the aid packages on its flight on New Year's Eve 1972 to ensure that the goods reached the proper hands.  Tragically, Clemente's flight crashed off the shore of Puerto Rico, costing the Pirates superstar his life at the age of 38.  Clemente was posthumously honored with the Presidential Citizens Medal and a Congressional Gold Medal by then-president Richard Nixon and the U.S. Congress, and given immediate entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame, as the BBWAA waived its usual five-year waiting period.

Here are some news items as we pay tribute to Clemente and look ahead to 2013…

  • Counting arbitration raises and the $13MM they have tentatively agreed to pay Mike Napoli, the Red Sox 2013 payroll will almost exactly match the club's 2012 payroll, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.
  • Speaking of arb raises, you can follow all of the arbitration cases and settlements on MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker, which has now been updated with the salaries of players who have already come to agreements.
  • The Indians have "liked" Jason Kubel dating back to his days with the Twins, so Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer figures the Tribe probably discussed Kubel in their previous negotiations with the Diamondbacks this winter.  Hoynes doesn't think the Indians should deal Asdrubal Cabrera for Kubel (a reader's suggestion) but he agrees that Cleveland could use Kubel's power.
  • Also from Hoynes' reader mail piece, he thinks the Indians will take care of other business before considering re-signing Travis Hafner, and that Chris Perez will return in 2013 unless the Tribe gets "a big return" in a trade for the closer.
  • Kubel isn't a fit for the Mets and the team doesn't have the prospect depth to get Justin Upton, but Michael Baron of Metsblog.com wonders if the Mets could make a play for another Diamondbacks outfielder in Adam Eaton.  While I agree that Eaton would be a good fit for the Amazins, it would take a lot to convince Arizona to part such a talented, controllable player.
  • Peter Moylan appears to have little chance of returning to the Braves, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as GM Frank Wren said the team's bullpen was set after trading for Jordan Walden.  Moylan has a career 2.59 ERA over seven seasons with Atlanta but has appeared in just 21 games over the last two seasons due to a lower back injury and rotator cuff surgery.  The right-hander was non-tendered by the Braves in October.
  • FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi lists the Padres, Orioles, Yankees and seven other teams who still have significant roster holes to fill in January.  In a seperate list, Morosi names his top 10 baseball newsmakers of the past year.

Astros Links: Berkman, DH, Norris

Here's the latest from the American League's newest team, the Houston Astros…

  • Lance Berkman remains atop the team's DH wishlist according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). There are still issues to be resolved before a reunion takes place.
  • Crasnick notes that if the Astros can't bring Berkman back, they're likely to seek a late-20s player who's been blocked and needs an opportunity to serve as DH (Twitter links). They don't have interest in players like Luke Scott, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, and Travis Hafner.
  • A few teams are considering right-hander Bud Norris as a back-end rotation option, reports Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe (on Twitter). The 27-year-old pitched to a 4.65 ERA in 168 1/3 innings last season and projects to earn $2.9MM through arbitration next winter.

Astros Seeking Designated Hitter

WEDNESDAY, 7:52pm: The Astros have touched base with Berkman and his agent, GM Jeff Luhnow told Dave Zangaro of CSNHouston.com.  The talks are not too far along, as Luhnow expects a conclusion by early next year.

MONDAY, 12:26pm: As they prepare to move to the American League West in 2013, the Astros are looking for a player they didn't need in the National League: a designated hitter. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter), Houston would like to add Lance Berkman if the price is reasonable, with guys like Travis Hafner and Carlos Pena also potentially in the mix.

Berkman expressed some interest last month in rejoining the Astros, and Houston was said to be one of a handful of teams kicking the tires on the switch-hitter. However, even after an injury-plagued 2012, there's no guarantee Berkman would come cheap. Pena, coming off a .197/.330/.354 season with the Rays, and Hafner, who was limited to 63 games in '12, both figure to come cheaper than Berkman.