As we Yankee fans sit and hold our collective breaths on Alex Rodriguez‘s situation, there’s another mess that it leaves behind. Even with A-Rod gone until mid-July, now possibly all season, the biggest mystery is who will be the team’s DH. This obviously became an issue once the Seattle Mariners struck a deal with Raul Ibanez and the Cleveland Indians signed Nick Swisher. Now the Yankees are currently left with a few options, none of whom are really viable options if we’re talking in-house (Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez, really?!?).
We all know how valuable A-Rod is in the DH role, especially when he can platoon it with Derek Jeter. Now, Jeter’s all alone in that regard unless they decide to put Mark Teixeira there and have someone else play a couple days at first. A-Rod’s absence is really going to have some kind of effect on the team.
Let’s look a few possible free-agent options the Yankees could explore with A-Rod out for a long time.
Could Travis Hafner, a long time Indian, become New York’s solution for 2013? (Image: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
1. Travis Hafner -LHB
The one thing that’s unfortunate about Hafner is ever since he was plunked in the head by Mark Buehrle, he hasn’t been the same batter. Hafner hasn’t been able to get through an entire season since 2007 as the disabled list seems to be a common occurrence for him. That said, in the time he does play, he’s still a threat with the bat. Early on in his career, Hafner was one of the most feared batters in the game. Nowadays, he still can pack a punch and could deliver some serious moon shots in Yankee Stadium.
Looking at his career, Hafner is a .278/.381/.507 hitter with 201 home runs, 694 RBIs and has scored 588 runs. He has an incredible ISO rating of .229 and a decent BABIP of .313. He only played in 66 games in 2012 with the Tribe, but still had a .228/.346/.438 slash line with 12 homers and 34 RBIs.
Needless to say, Hafner can still crush the ball. He’s a left-handed hitter too, which while this line-up has a decent amount, couldn’t hurt to have. The one down side to Hafner is his salary of $13 million that he made in 2012. If the Yankees were to only go for a one-year deal, then sure, by all means try and go after him. If not, then perhaps Hafner will never be a Yankee, but he’s probably the best option out there now.
2. Jim Thome -LHB
I give Thome kudos for coming back and still having the drive to play. However, how good of an option is the 42-, going on 43-, year-old these days? Well, if we take a glance at his 2012, Thome had a .252/.344/.442 slash line which is really impressive, considering he was with two entirely different teams last year. That said, the increasing trend with Thome are his strikeouts.
- 2010: Struck out 24.1% of the time
- 2011: Struck out 28.4% of the time
- 2012: Struck out 32.8% of the time
We all know the type of power hitter that Thome is, but the fact that he’s striking out even more and more shows me a slowing veteran. While he may certainly not be done just yet, he’s definitely on the track there. He’s still a very capable hitter, but then again, he didn’t play in 100 games in the past two years and in 2012, he played in the fewest games in his career (58) since 1993. Certainly the idea of having a power guy who can still hit for some contact is a thrilling idea for this Yankee team, especially since his salary is far from what it used to be.
3. Luke Scott – LHB
Luke Scott would definitely have to get rid of the Wolverine facial hair. (Image: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
The one thing Scott has in common with Hafner and Thome is that he is also a left-handed batter. With Scott comes some pretty decent power that a lot of people seem to forget. A career .260/.341/.487 hitter, Scott has proven himself to be a rather capable option at DH. In 2012, Scott hit a .229/.285/.439 slash line, which doesn’t say a heck of a whole lot about his contact, but his power was definitely there.
Much like Hafner, Scott has a really high career ISO rating of .228 and and pretty decent BABIP of .291. Scott did see a decline in his walk percentage (10.2 in 2011, 6.1 in 2012) and a rise in his strikeout percentage (22.9 in 2011, 23.1 in 2012), but regardless, he has a bat that can smack the ball. Not to mention, Scott has played most of his career in the AL East as a member of the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays, and his salary isn’t too hard to work with.