Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Should the Yankees deal for Hafner?

They say vertical pinstripes are slimming.

So the latest AJ Burnett trade rumor has to do with dealing him to the Cleveland Indians for Travis Hafner. Hafner is owed $13 million for 2012, and has a club option for 2013 at another $13 million (with a buyout of $2.75 million). So the money thing would work out pretty well without any having to be exchanged, as the Yankees would save $3.5 million this season (the buyout wouldn't affect the team's payroll until 2013) and would already have a strong bat to face right-handed pitchers in a platoon with Andruw Jones facing left-handed pitchers.

Although that would depend on whether the Indians believe Burnett is worth $8.625 million a season, as the difference between what him and Travis make is $17.25 million (including the buyout that Cleveland would have had to pay Hafner next season, assuming they wouldn't want to bring him back), and AJ is under contract for two more seasons. So it's possible the Yankees would have to add a couple million dollars into the deal to get it done (at most the Pirates have been reported to only want to take on $15 million of Burnett's deal, meaning they think he's only worth $7.5 million a season).

And before you come to a conclusion on whether the Yankees should even entertain this idea, take a look at Pronk's numbers against right-handed pitchers last season. In 260 plate appearances vs. RHPs he hit .302/.404/.482. Even in 2010 it was pretty darn good, as he put up a line of .279/.385/.478 in 351 plate appearances vs. RHPs. 2009? .292/.375/.490 in 293 plate appearances vs. RHPs. I think it goes without saying that he would be a more ideal guy to have than Raul Ibanez, Johnny Damon, or Hideki Matsui with the bat.

Notice that last bit? "With the bat"? Yeah, I added that part because outside of having a superior bat against right-handed pitchers, the guy hasn't stepped foot on the field defensively since 2007 (91 innings). And even then the guy hasn't played the field regularly since 2003, when he was at 1B for the Indians in 329 innings. So we're talking about a DH-only guy, and as I've made it clear I'm not a fan of DH-only players on the team. Then again, it is only for one year, so perhaps I should bend my rule on things here.

Lastly I took a look at his injury history. Last season Hafner missed a decent amount of time with foot (20 days) and oblique (30 days) issues. And on top of that he missed 4 days due to ankle problems. And as you can see at the link, it wasn't the first season in which Pronk has battled health issues.

In all, although I think he'd make the best DH platoon option out of the names we've heard, his injury history just don't make me want to see this trade with Cleveland happen. Before getting to the injury history I was leaning towards rooting for it to happen, but seeing that he missed 52 games last season pushes me to the "no thanks" side of the argument.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)