Bronx, NY – The New York Yankees agreed to terms with free- agent Travis Hafner on a one-year contract on Friday, with the veteran presumably slated to serve as the team's primary designated hitter.
Hafner had spent the last 10 seasons with the Cleveland Indians and put together four straight years of 100 or more RBI with the Tribe from 2004-07. The 35-year-old's production has dropped off in recent years, however, with injuries playing a role in his decline.
The left-handed slugger was limited to just 66 games in 2012 due to knee and back problems and batted .228 with 12 homers and 34 RBI. The Indians declined a $13 million option on Hafner following the end of the season, instead giving him a $2.75 million buyout.
Hafner is a .278 lifetime hitter with 201 homers and 694 RBI, with nearly all of his career at-bats coming as a DH. His best season came with the Indians in 2006, when the North Dakota native finished third in the American League with 42 homers, led the AL with a .659 slugging percentage and batted .308 with a personal-best 117 RBI.
The signing comes a week after Yankees general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged that Alex Rodriguez could miss most or all of the upcoming campaign as he recovers from a hip procedure. The three-time AL MVP was expected to see significant time at the DH spot before undergoing the surgery.
New York also did not retain veterans Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez, both of whom received extensive action at DH last season.