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In case you forgot how bad Travis Hafner's contract was

Dec 17, 2009, 9:25 AM EST

Nothing too Earth shattering in this article about Travis Hafner. Just your run-of-the-mill “Player X is feeling great and ready to contribute next season” piece.  But man, I had forgotten just how bad a deal the Tribe made with this guy:

Though the Indians have young, emerging talent in the likes Shin-Soo
Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera and Matt LaPorta, having a veteran power bat in
the middle of the order remains a must.

Especially when you remember the Tribe still owes Hafner $11.5
million in 2010, $13 million in 2011 and $13 million in 2012. And don’t
forget that $2.75 million buyout if his 2013 club option isn’t
exercised.

Sweet sassy-molassy that’s a lot of money to pay a guy who could hit a few years ago.

  1. Jeff - Dec 17, 2009 at 9:47 AM

    Further evidence that small-market teams should NEVER be paying big bucks to guys that cannot play a defensive position!

  2. Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 17, 2009 at 10:19 AM

    Except, when the deal was signed, it was lauded as a “sweetheart” deal for the Indians.
    Funny the difference a few years makes.

  3. Drew - Dec 17, 2009 at 10:33 AM

    It’s nice to see someone else uses sweet sassy-molassy. I tend to get strange looks for it.

  4. Jamie - Dec 17, 2009 at 11:13 AM

    I’m seeing an opening for a Milton Bradley trade rumor here somewhere…

  5. Chuck - Dec 17, 2009 at 11:16 AM

    I disagree that there many who characterized the Hafner contract extension as a “sweetheart deal”.
    When Hanfer signed the deal (which was mid-2007, I believe), many saw the following:
    * a once great hitter, at ages 27-29, regressing dramatically at age 30
    * an unathletic hitter who can’t run or play defense
    * a type of athlete who doesn’t age terribly well
    The deal was not what one would have expected from Shapiro, who should have known better. The Indians had possibly the best hitter in baseball for peanuts during his peak, and then decided to pay top dollar to witness his career denouement.

  6. MarkH - Dec 17, 2009 at 11:38 AM

    Look at Todd Helton’s remaining contract if you want to see sweet sassy-molassy ugly.
    So — just what *are* the odds Colorado picks up his $23 million club option for 2012? And were there ever any realistic circumstances under which they *would* have picked it up?

  7. Eat a Peach - Dec 17, 2009 at 11:57 AM

    I really hate this kind of knee-jerk revisionist history analysis, by Craig and Chuck in particular. You have to look at the circumstances and history of the deal and also put it in perspective against the financial climate of the times.
    Preseason 2007, the economy is robust, David Ortiz just signed a 4 year $52 million dollar extension. Travis Hafner is locked up for $4 million for ’07 and $5 million for ’08. He’s coming off a 42 HR season, and 3 seasons of OPS north of .993 in a row. Shapiro has been trying for months and months to get Hafner locked up for a few more years, but Hafner has all the leverage with those kinds of performances behind him. Hafner slumps early, then with an injured knee and a dinged-up shoulder, he caves and signs this extension in July of 2007, getting him identical to Big Papi money.
    It really was a sweetheart deal, and he only agreed to it because he realized he would not be playing healthy anytime soon. To go after Shapiro now for that contract extension is feeble-minded.

  8. Chuck - Dec 17, 2009 at 12:31 PM

    Feeble-minded is a little strong, no? Check out the mixed reaction at BTF at the time.

  9. Jeff - Dec 17, 2009 at 1:06 PM

    But he had a skillset that does not age well and did not have a defensive position. For a team that could not afford to keep Sabathia, Lee or Victor Martinez, an extension for someone like Hafner was a luxury (even if it seemed like a pretty good deal at the time). Small-market teams can’t take on the risk of locking in a DH to a long-term contract. Hell, even big market teams shouldn’t do that (how much is Theo hating the deal with Big Papi right now?). Look at each of the last few off-seasons, there are always aging sluggers to be had at fractions of the price of what Hafner’s making. You can definitely give Shapiro some grief for this.

  10. The TC - Dec 17, 2009 at 4:38 PM

    That contract will never be as bad as Vernon Wells’. Not even if Hafner never swings the bat again. Ugh.

  11. Eat a Peach - Dec 18, 2009 at 7:38 AM

    Dan Szymborski, who actually wrote the article for BTF at the time, states in the first sentence of Chuck’s link: “The length of the contract makes this a pretty nice signing for the Indians.”
    Chuck – linking to something that says the opposite of what you claim? Especially feeble minded, and that’s not even strong enough.

  12. Dan Szymborski - Dec 18, 2009 at 8:37 AM

    Blecch, don’t remind me! He was always a risk for decline, but the hope was that he’s put in a few more big years and make the back end of the contract at least tolerable. Instead, it took all of 2 months and one of the two big uh-oh injuries for batters (shoulder and wrist – obviously being decapitated in a tragic cooking accident would be worse, but it’s relatively uncommon).

  13. Eat a Peach - Dec 18, 2009 at 9:14 AM

    This just in, Travis Hafner decapitated whilst pressure-cooking a turkey.
    Seriously though, he only signed the deal because he was already hurt and scuffling. He came crawling back to what was perceived at the time as a low-ball offer. My point is that all these yokels screaming about Shapiro after the fact need to take their torches to the next village.

  14. SHOE LIFTS - Jan 29, 2010 at 5:12 PM

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  15. SHOE LIFTS - Jan 29, 2010 at 6:27 PM

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  17. Jeff - Feb 22, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    The Indians should be allowed to void the Hafner contract if they can prove he was juiced up when he signed (this shouldn’t be hard). The guy has dropped a ton of weight and his production is horrible… in the least they should require him to go back on the juice and put up some decent numbers until he gets caught.

  18. Joselyn - Mar 9, 2010 at 12:45 AM

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