On-Base Perception

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Report: Yankees talking deal with Travis Hafner

Travis Hafner #48 of the Cleveland Indians hits

Travis Hafner #48 of the Cleveland Indians hits an RBI single during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Progressive Field. July 6, 2011) (Credit: Getty Images)

The Yankees may be close to signing free agent slugger Travis Hafner, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Jon Heyman reports that the team is also talking with "others" too.

Hafner, 35, would fill the designated hitter spot for the Yankees, a role which is currently up for grabs but projected to go to light-hitting infielder Eduardo Nunez. Signing Hafner would provide the Yankees with some power after the losses of Nick Swisher, Russell Martin and Raul Ibanez to free agency and Alex Rodriguez to hip surgery. That quartet combined for 82 home runs in 2012.

Hafner hit just .228 with the Indians in just 66 games in 2012, but posted a .346 on-base percentage with 12 home runs. He's a career .278 hitter, has posted at least a .346 OBP in eight of the last nine years and has hit double-digit home runs in nine of the last 10 seasons. Hafner brings injury concerns -- he hasn't played more than 118 games in any of the last five seasons -- but on a cheap, one-year deal, he could be a low-risk, high-reward option for the roster.

The left-handed hitting Hafner has been deadly against right-handed pitching during his career, posting a .925 on-base plus slugging percentage. But he's also been useful against lefties with an .805 career OPS. Hafner's best season came in 2006, when he hit .308 with a career-high 42 home runs and 117 RBIs. He led the AL in slugging percentage and OPS that year and finished eighth in MVP voting.

Hafner played in just 23 games for the Rangers in 2002, his rookie season, before a trade to Cleveland that kept him in an Indians uniform for the past decade.

We mentioned Hafner as a possible fit for the Yankees earlier in January.

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