31 Jan 2013
The Yankees have reportedly signed Travis Hafner, aka Pronk, to a major league deal. That means he will be on the 40-man and presumably make the roster as a lefty hitting DH. I get their thought process. Hafner hit .241/.361/.437 against RHP last year and in Yankee Stadium he could do some damage. However, I still don’t get the signing.
Let’s start with the obvious, this is an extremely fragile player. Since 2007, he has appeared in over 100 games once, in 2010. He will be 36, so he isn’t getting younger or better. And, he hasn’t played in the field since 2007. I wasn’t a fan of the Ibanez signing last year, but at least he could put a glove on. Hafner seems destined to be a DH and only a DH.
But the thing that really bothers me about this move is that the Yankees don’t seem to think there is anyone else in their system who can play this role. We keep hearing about getting under $189-million, well the best way to do that is with young and cheap players. For instance, Corban Joseph is a lefty-hitting second baseman who put up a line of .266/.366/.474 in 84 games at AAA last year, he is also only 23. Why not see what he can do with the bat in the big leagues? If they didn’t like that idea, Chris Dickerson was on the 40-man roster and could have provided defense and speed off the bench to go with his lefty bat. The Yankees just signed Dan Johnson to a minor league deal, he may not hit like Hafner, but he played both first and third in the minors last year so he would provide more flexibility.
But the Yankees did what they always do they turned to the veteran. It may work out well, but it doesn’t make them younger or cheaper and that is a missed opportunity in my mind.