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Indians considering reunion with Hafner and Thome

Indians considering reunion with Hafner and Thome
January 23, 2013
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According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Cleveland Indians are considering a reunion with former Indians sluggers Travis Hafner and Jim Thome. 

The IBI first mentioned the Thome possibility last week and that a contract was discussed. The Indians have kept the door open on Hafner all offseason, but his price tag is higher than Thome's and the Indians have little if any wiggle room with their payroll at the moment. 

The Indians are looking to add one more bat to help shore up their bench and potentially help fill their designated hitter void. The Indians likely won't have a full-time designated hitter, but there are some interesting options still left in free agency that could fill the role on a part-time basis. Having a bat like Thome, Hafner or someone else as the regular designated hitter but playing about half the time (350 plate appearances) would mesh well with their need to have flexibility at the position so they can rest regulars and get other bench players regular playing time. 

Heyman also noted that the Indians have no interest at this time of bringing back Manny Ramirez.

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User Comments

Joe Chengery
January 24, 2013 - 11:00 PM EST
Matt,

To my knowledge, Thome is NO longer an option in the field either; I can't remember the last time he played 1B. While Hafner has the arthritic elbow, Thome has the bad back, and is 42 (43 in Sept.), so there's no better chance for him to see the field than there is for Hafner.

With both, they're here for their bats as the DH - that's it. Ramirez, if he were on the table, probably could play a little in the OF (whether you want him to play in the OF is another question, especially since every other player, except maybe Raburn, would be better than Ramirez defensively).
Adam
January 24, 2013 - 12:09 PM EST
Jack- Every team has players on its' roster that will get far fewer than 300 plate appearances. Heck, Jose Lopez and Aaron Cunningham COMBINED barely got 300 plate appearances last year. We are talking about bench players here, and that's exactly what Hafner or Thome would be. The only downside to this type of deal is that we'd be paying a little more than you'd like to for a bench player, but is anybody going to be terribly upset that the Dolans will have to spend an extra few million dollars?
Matt
January 23, 2013 - 9:32 PM EST
I was on board with the rotating DH, but at this point if you are plugging a bat into a lineup and your options are Aviles, Marson, McGuiness, Carerra, Raburn, Gomes, Phelps, Fedroff, etc. or Thome/Hafner, wouldn't we all take Thome/Hafner?

Hafner is obviously the better bat, but is Thome still capable of playing 2 or 3 innings at 1B every week or 2? if so that gives him a big advantage. It seems like there were many games last year where we could have won the game if Hafner could have filled in at 1B in late inning situations.
Tony
January 23, 2013 - 8:50 PM EST
Jack, I think that is the point though, that Hafner and Thome would be part-time additions. Not considered full time players. Used properly and to limit their over-exposure to injuries and such, they would both be more productive than any bench option the Indians have currently for DH.
Jack
January 23, 2013 - 8:44 PM EST
I simply think that anybody who wants Thome or Hafner are simply being more about nostalgia then wanting to see this team improved.

There little chance that either of these players ever see 300 PAs again. Why does anybody want to sign a player who can't give them at least a half a season?
dick
January 23, 2013 - 8:36 PM EST
Bummer for Fedroff. Seems like a hitter. Hope he torches at Columbus and forces his way onto the roster. Hey, you never know.
Tony
January 23, 2013 - 2:00 PM EST
Without considering money, I'd probably prefer Hafner over Thome. Hafner can probably handle DH duties on a more regular basis if needed and has had four straight solid years averaging an .800+ OPS from 2009-2012. Thome is just hanging on and is pretty much just an occasional DH and pinch hitting option. I'd be fine with either. Hafner would be more of a regular but a 80-90 game DH, whereas Thome more of the 25th guy on the team as a 40-50 game DH and pinch hitter off the bench.
Tony
January 23, 2013 - 1:57 PM EST
That's possible with Raburn. As for Carrera, he's a below average ML hitter, while Raburn at least is slightly above average over his career. I think it will be interesting to see how the fourth outfield spot shakes out. I think Carrera will go in as a slight favorite, but if Raburn has a good camp, he will be right in the mix. Fedroff has no chance even with a stellar camp, but could be an option later in the year. Francisco has an outside shot as well, but probably just depth.
Steve
January 23, 2013 - 1:54 PM EST
Just curious Tony, of the three: Thome, Hafner and Ramirez (I know he's off the table, but this is hypothetical), who would you take?
Adam
January 23, 2013 - 1:52 PM EST
Okay that's interesting about McGuiness, I figured he was a near lock because he would serve as a left handed 1B option against the tougher righties in the league. Reynolds has struggled against righties in the past so I thought McGuiness may be a good compliment there, not as a platoon but to improve overall effectiveness of the position.

I guess I just can't say I agree that Raburn is a better hitter than Carrera. More ML experience obviously, but he's been terrible for his last 600+ plate appearances. Also, Raburn is a perennial slow starter. He has a career .641 first half OPS compared to a career .834 second half OPS. That's a pretty substantial difference. Why not let him start the year in Columbus, regain some confidence and if one of our other bench options is struggling and/or an injury occurs, use him later in the year?
Tony
January 23, 2013 - 1:44 PM EST
I think Carrera could still factor into things, but like I said, because Brantley and Stubbs can both play any outfield position, there is not much need to have a true defensive fourth outfielder. When Stubbs sits, they could easily move Brantley to CF and put Raburn in LF. Not saying this is how they go with things, but offensively, Raburn is a superior player to Carrera. While Carrera is a better defender and runner, Raburn has the better bat and more ML experience.....and in LF, that's what you prefer.

McGuiness is far from a lock. In fact, I think right now his chances are remote to make the team. Remember, over 75% of Rule 5 picks are sent back to their original teams by the end of spring training. He will need to have a very good camp to stick.
Adam
January 23, 2013 - 1:43 PM EST
Joseph...since the Indians wont have a full time DH, they basically have 5 bench spots. 4 of those 5 spots will be used for player with defensive versatility. It doesn't hurt to use your 25th roster spot on a power bat like Thome or Travis.
Adam
January 23, 2013 - 1:19 PM EST
Don't you think the Indians would rather have a good defensive outfielder in Carrera, who can spell Stubbs against right-handed pitching? Raburn is a defensive liability anywhere he plays and hasn't hit well in two years.

With Mcguiness, I figured he's basically a lock to start the year because he's a Rule 5 guy. They can start Gomes in Columbus without risk of losing him. Having Marson, Aviles, McGuiness, and Carrera (plus a Thome/Hafner type) on the bench would give us great balance and versatility.

Aviles is RH utility infielder
Marson RH backup catcher
McGuiness LH 1B/LF
Carrera LH OF
Thome/Hafner LH DH

I don't see Raburn or Francisco as an upgrade over any of those guys in terms of value.
Joseph
January 23, 2013 - 12:56 PM EST
I am hoping the Indians resist the temptation to sigh either Thome or Hafner. I would much rather have a player who can play defense on the bench. In my opinion both Hafner a.nd Thome are 1/2 tool players at this point. Is there any chance that Gomes has enough skill as a catcher to take Marson's place as the backup?
Tony
January 23, 2013 - 11:43 AM EST
I think at this point the only two guaranteed spots on the bench are Marson and Aviles. Beyond that, there are no guarantees. With the signing of Raburn, I think he could make the team as the extra outfielder/infielder as they don't have a true need for a fourth outfielder since Stubbs/Brantley can play anywhere. That to me puts Carrera on the bubble. McGuiness will need to hit this spring and show he can handle ML pitching, and I think if Thome/Hafner is signed it could limit his chances. Gomes might fit well as a versatile right-handed bat for the other spot, but it could come down to him and McGuiness for the last spot (if the Indians sign another bat).
Adam
January 23, 2013 - 11:39 AM EST
I have to say I think adding one of Thome or Hafner to our bench would be a considerable boost over guys who are currently in the running for that 5th bench spot. Marson, Aviles, McGuiness and Carrera are pretty much guaranteed spots, and I would much rather see Thome/Hafner fill the last spot than Raburn, Francisco, McDade, etc.

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