Indians trainer Lonnie Soloff gave an update on Travis Hafner’s status, revealing that the designated hitter is wearing a walking boot and may need season-ending foot surgery.
Hafner was placed on the disabled list yesterday with a sprained right foot, leading to speculate that the Indians will try to claim Jim Thome off waivers from the Twins to temporarily replace him at DH.
Now it turns out the replacement might not be so temporary, although several teams in front of the Indians on the waiver-wire line could make a play for Thome and force them to consider alternatives.
Hafner has hit .281 with 11 homers and an .812 OPS, but this will be the fourth consecutive season in which he fails to play 120 games and he’s batted just .220 with a .642 OPS since the All-Star break.
Injuries have turned Hafner from a middle-of-the-order, MVP-caliber monster to an oft-injured, reasonably productive DH, but because the Indians locked him up long term before the health problems started he’s still owed $13 million in 2012 with a $13 million option or $2.75 million buyout for 2013.
Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.
The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.
The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.