|Pronk may very well have played his last game for the Indians. (Getty Images)|
The Indians have placed Travis Hafner on the disabled list. Yes, we've heard this many times, but this time it's a bit more newsworthy because of the possible career repercussions.
Consider that Pronk -- still my favorite nickname in baseball because of what it means -- has lower back inflammation that is serious enough to land him on the disabled list. Those types of things can linger, especially in an older, injury-prone player.
Consider the Indians are basically cooked in terms of being in a playoff race.
Consider that the season has less than eight weeks left.
Now look at Hafner's contract. He is in the final year of a six-year, $66.1 million deal. There is a team option for $13 million for 2013, but the chances of the Indians picking that up have to be about the same as the Astros climbing back into contention this year. They'll surely instead pay him the $2.75 million buyout and let him become a free agent.
Hafner is 35 and has averaged just 85 games per season the past five years (including this season, so it's possible he comes back and ups that figure), thus, it's difficult to see the Indians wanting to bring him back for any dollar amount. The Grady Sizemore debacle for this season is also probably weighing on the mind of the Cleveland front office.
On the flip-side, Pronk is productive with the bat when he's healthy. Due to his ability to hit for power and draw walks, his OPS-plus has only dipped below 120 one time since 2003. This season it's 126. He has hit 11 homers and has a .355 on-base percentage in his 242 plate appearances this season.
So this isn't going to be a forced retirement or anything, but the smart money says he'll sign somewhere else in the AL.
Really, the only question that remains is whether or not Hafner will put on that Indians uniform again.