Travis Hafner could miss rest of season with bulging disk in back

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Travis Hafner was placed on the 15-day disabled list yesterday with what was described as lower back inflammation, but there’s a chance the injury could cost him the rest of the season.

According to Dennis Manoloff of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Indians head trainer Lonnie Soloff said this afternoon that Hafner is dealing with a bulging disk in his back. He is currently taking anti-inflammatory medication and was given an epidural injection today.

Hafner believes he’ll need a few weeks of treatment before his status for the rest of the season is decided, but he may have already taken his last at-bat as a member of the Indians. “Pronk” is in the final year of a four-year, $47 million contract which includes a $13 million option for 2013 or a $2.75 million buyout. Injuries have limited the 35-year-old to just 423 games since the start of the 2008 season, so he’ll almost certainly have to look for a new deal in free agency.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.