Over the offseason, the Indians are expected to decline the $13 million club option on Hafner's contract, opting instead to pay him a $2.75 million buyout. There is always the chance that the Tribe offers him a reduced deal for the 2013 season, but all signs seem to point toward Hafner testing the free-agent waters.
Hafner is not sure what the Indians' front office is thinking, but the 35-year-old DH is open to returning to Cleveland.
"It's a possibility," Hafner said. "There's a lot of uncertainties right now. I haven't talked to anybody. The organization, I've been here so long and a lot of these guys are like family. I've really enjoyed playing in this city and the fans have been great. I've had a great time here."
This season, knee and back injuries have limited Hafner to 64 games, during which he has hit .224 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs. It is the fifth injury-marred season in a row for the once-promising slugger, who had four straight years of 24-plus homers and 100-plus RBIs for the Indians from 2004-07.
"He still has that presence in the lineup and gives you good at-bats," Indians interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said. "Unfortunately, his health just hasn't been that great. But, when he's in that lineup, the offense seems to be a little better."
Over the past five seasons, Hafner has averaged just 85 games because of a variety of health woes.
"Certainly that's been the most frustrating thing," Hafner said. "Missing time and not being out there to play full seasons. Plus, when you miss time, you kind of get out of rhythm and things like that. It's been very frustrating.
"But, at the same time, I feel like I work as hard as anybody in the offseason to stay healthy and to be in shape. There's really nothing more that I could have done."