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Hafner, Yankees finalize one-year contract

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NEW YORK -- The Yankees on Friday finalized a one-year contract with free-agent slugger Travis Hafner, who is expected to help fill the club's designated-hitter slot for the 2013 season.

Hafner, 35, batted .228 with 12 home runs and 34 RBIs in 64 games for the Indians last season. Cleveland cut ties with Hafner in October, choosing to pay the left-handed hitter a $2.75 million buyout instead of a $13 million option for the '13 season.

The owner of 201 home runs over 11 Major League seasons, Hafner has not played the field since 2007. As a full-time DH with the Yanks, he'll essentially fill the role envisioned last season for Raul Ibanez.

The Yankees have also been in the market for a right-handed hitter who can play some outfield and hit left-handed pitching well, a role filled the past two seasons by Andruw Jones, suggesting that Hafner would primarily be asked to play against right-handers.

Hafner has been limited to an average of 86 games per season over the past five years, and has struggled against left-handed pitching. However, dating back to 2008, Hafner has hit .269 with a .371 on-base percentage against right-handed pitching.

Last year, the Yanks and Indians held discussions about a preseason trade that could have sent Hafner to New York in a deal for pitcher A.J. Burnett, but the talks stalled and the Yankees sent Burnett to the Pirates instead.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated outfielder Russ Canzler for assignment.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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