- Last Updated: 10:42 AM, January 31, 2013
- Posted: 2:53 AM, January 31, 2013
When the Yankees were trying to dump A.J. Burnett a year ago, one of the players they were interested in was Cleveland’s Travis Hafner.
Despite their efforts, they weren’t able to reach a deal with the Indians and Burnett ended up in Pittsburgh.
Now, Hafner has drawn the Yankees’ attention again, and this time they don’t have to figure out a way to include Burnett in the deal.
Still without a left-handed designated hitter to take over for Raul Ibanez — who signed with Seattle before general manager Brian Cashman made him an offer to stay in The Bronx — the Yankees are looking at the 35-year-old Hafner.
Unlike Ibanez, whom the Yankees signed after failing to land Hafner last winter, the former first baseman can’t play the field and would give the Yankees fewer options if they are hurt by injuries.
Hafner might not help the Yankees’ durability, either, because he has had difficulty staying on the field after four excellent offensive seasons with the Indians from 2004-07, when he drove in more than 100 runs each year.
Cleveland remains interested in Hafner, though injury problems since then have robbed him of significant playing time. Last season, he was limited to just 263 plate appearances because of knee and back woes.
Nevertheless, when Hafner is able to remain in one piece, he does provide power.
Despite his injuries in 2012, Hafner hit 12 homers, including eight off right-handers, and his OPS was .798 versus righties — not much worse than Ibanez’s OPS of .812 against them.
The Yankees signed Dan Johnson to a minor-league deal last week in an attempt to fill the spot, but their search for a lefty designated hitter does not include Jim Thome, another free-agent slugger with a history of back problems.
Though Hafner is a power-hitting lefty, he hasn’t had a great deal of success taking advantage of the short right-field fence in The Bronx.
In 12 plate appearances at the new Yankee Stadium, Hafner has just one homer and one RBI. He also had just one homer and 12 RBIs in 75 plate appearances across the street.
A more pressing need remains in the outfield, but the Yankees have been unable to find a right-handed bat worthy of a major league contract.
Cashman has explored the free-agent route, as well as trades and still only managed to land players such as Matt Diaz and Russ Canzler on minor league deals, while Michael Morse and Scott Hairston have gone elsewhere.Follow @NYPostsports