Travis Hafner and the New York Yankees have agreed to a one-year, $2 million US contract that allows him to earn up to $4 million more in bonuses based on plate appearances.
Limited by injuries the past five seasons, the 35-year-old gives the Yankees a designated hitter with power potential from the left side of the plate. He essentially takes over the role filled last season by Raul Ibanez, who signed a $2.75 million, one-year deal with Seattle in December.
Hafner played in only 66 games for Cleveland last year because of knee and back problems and hit .228 with 12 homers and 34 RBIs in 263 at-bats. The Indians declined a $13 million option, electing to pay him a $2.75 million buyout.
The signing brings the Yankees' projected payroll to about $208 million for 18 players.
Hafner has not played the field since 2007 because of a spate of injuries and has appeared in the field in just 72 games over 11 big league seasons. He's played in more than 100 games only once since 2008.
Selected by Texas in the 31st round of the 1996 amateur draft, Hafner made his major league debut six years later. He spent 10 years with Cleveland and is a .278 career hitter with 201 homers and 694 RBIs. He has a .287 average with 152 home runs against right-handed pitching.
He would earn $100,000 apiece for 150 plate appearances, 155 and each additional 15 through 275 under Friday's deal. He would receive $125,000 apiece for 290 and each additional 15 through 425; and $175,000 apiece for 440 and each additional 15 through 575.
To clear a roster spot, the Yankees designated outfielder Russ Canzler for assignment.
Mets agree to minor league deal with Byrd
The New York Mets have agreed to a minor league contract with outfielder Marlon Byrd, who served a 50-game suspension last season after testing positive in June for a performance enhancing drug while he was a free agent.
An NL All-Star in 2010, Byrd was traded from the Chicago Cubs to Boston Red Sox on April 21. Boston released him on June 12. Two weeks later, MLB announced he tested positive for Tamoxifen, which can reduce side effects of steroid use and increase testosterone.
Byrd hit .210 in 47 games for Boston and Chicago last season, and has hit .278 in 11 big league seasons with 82 homers and 445 RBIs.
The 35-year-old gives the Mets another potential option in the outfield, an area in which they are considered to be very weak. This off-season they cut ties with Jason Bay and lost centre fielder Andres Torres, who signed with San Francisco, and Scott Hairston, who appears headed to the Cubs.