April 17, 2014

MLB News: Indians finalizing deal with free agent David Murphy

Texas Rangers outfielder David Murphy was a subject of some curious Twitter rumblings connected to the Cleveland Indians earlier on Tuesday.

Now, it appears there’s actually some weight behind the smoke: The Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant reports, via a source, the Indians are finalizing a 2-year deal in excess of $10 million with the 32-year-old veteran.

It’s a bit of a surprising deal for the Tribe, who already have over $30 million committed to outfielders Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and Ryan Raburn for 2014. Incumbent right fielder Drew Stubbs is a potential non-tender candidate, as he’s expected to garner about $3.8 million in arbitration, per MLBTradeRumors.

Murphy has averaged 130 games for the Texas Rangers over the last six seasons. During this time, he’s averaged a .272/.335/.436 line with 1.7 WAR per year. He’s been primarily a left fielder and had by far his worst season in 2013, batting just .220/.282/.374 in 142 contests. He earned $5.775 million in his final arbitration season this past year. A lefty hitter, he seems to be a good fit in a time-share with fellow veteran Raburn in right.

About 10 days ago, Indians GM Chris Antonetti spoke about the team’s offseason and listed bullpen and a “complementary bat” as key areas of need. Of course, that also includes starting pitching as both Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir are unlikely to return. That’s why it’s surprising the team splurged on another platoon outfielder as opposed to one of these other areas.

More likely than not, this spells the end of Stubbs’ tenure with the Indians. The team also had Matt Carson and others as potential backup outfield options, but they likely saw more versatility and dependability with the veteran Murphy.

[Related: Hudson to SF – What is the Tribe’s Plan B?]

  • Alex Ralston

    I sort of feel like that 10 MIllion could have been used better elsewhere, but that Murphy is an above average player. As long as we don’t fall short
    addressing more pressing needs because of budget restrictions this is a nice signing,

  • Steve

    nj0 hit that one on the nose.

  • Matthew Grant Anson

    :( bye stubbs.

  • Ethan Moses

    While I don’t hate this deal (Murphy is solid) I’m a little confused by it. They already had three players for two spots with swish rayburn and santana. Now I guess Carlos will DH more with Rayburn and Murphy set to split time in right. I just wonder what they will do to replace Baldo and what they will do at third (use Lindor like Machado possibly)

  • Steve

    $5M/year usually doesn’t give you even an average player on the FA market, so if you think Murphy is above average, the money was used about as well as possible.

    Personally, I think this is pretty fair. I’ve got Murphy as a below average player, who shouldn’t even see the field when a lefty is on the mound, but will do one of two useful things – keep Stubbs from facing RHP, or spelling Raburn against those righties when he regresses next season.

  • Steve

    $5M/year usually doesn’t give you even an average player on the FA market, so if you think Murphy is above average, the money was used about as well as possible.

    Personally, I think this is pretty fair. I’ve got Murphy as a below average player, who shouldn’t even see the field when a lefty is on the mound, but will do one of two useful things – keep Stubbs from facing RHP, or spelling Raburn against those righties when he regresses next season.

  • Steve

    Also, get a pitcher, and one who can eat innings. It’s hard to believe they couldn’t have topped the offer to Hudson, but oh well, keep looking. I’m with you that this is a nice deal only if it didn’t prevent us from getting that starter.

  • Steve

    Also, get a pitcher, and one who can eat innings. It’s hard to believe they couldn’t have topped the offer to Hudson, but oh well, keep looking. I’m with you that this is a nice deal only if it didn’t prevent us from getting that starter.

  • nobody

    Hmm, this gives us an opportunity to offer an outfielder for a decent pitcher (probably a #4-5 starter)

  • Kildawg

    Looks like Stubbs won’t be back next season. A Murphy/Raburn platoon in RF looks to exploit both players strong points while covering for their weaknesses. Plus Murphy can spell Brantley and Bourn (although I’d rather see Brantley in CF when Bourn needs an off day), plus with the versatility of Swisher and Santana help the platoon situation work optimally.

  • Natedawg86

    Are they possibly looking to move someone in a trade perhaps?

  • mgbode

    Raburn should not be an everyday player. He is a hitter against LHP specialist.

    Last year, Murphy’s splits L/R were about equal, but for his career, Murphy is a much better hitter against RHP. He matches up perfectly with Raburn as a platoon guy in the OF.

  • matt underwood

    why do I have the feeling this has david dellucci written all over it

  • nj0

    Here’s to broken clocks!

  • Markn95

    Not a bad sign, considering the dollars involved. That said, if this is the only significant bat we bring in during the offseason, I’ll be disappointed.

  • nj0

    Murphy is like a left handed Stubbs who has (until last year) been more productive at the plate. Both can play all three OF positions (though Murphy has had less time in RF and supposedly has a weak arm) and both are under control for three years. Stubbs will probably make around the same money over the next three years thanks to arbitration.

    I see Murphy as a Stubbs v2.0 with more offensive upside, comparable defense, and added platoonability. All for the same money. And we can now deal Stubbs (who will probably have a nice market) for other parts. Great move.

  • nj0

    Should add… that’s IF we trade Stubbs, which I’m not sure is necessarily going to happen. If we keep him as a platoon and make Raburn our super utility guy, that’d work too (though I’d worry that we’d be able to find everyone enough ABs).

  • nj0

    Or with Stubbs. Think people are down on him a little too much (myself included). His R/L splits are comparable to Raburn’s. Neither Raburn or Stubbs should be starting everyday imo.

  • mgbode

    with the rumors Stubbs is on the block, I think people are just jumping to the logical conclusion that the team prefers Raburn.

  • nj0

    No, I get that. It does make the most sense. I just didn’t want to jump to any conclusions. The more I think about it though, the more it seems like I may be over thinking things.

  • Steve

    They seem unlikely to play Raburn in the infield, and I’m having a hard time seeing them keep five outfielders on the roster. Stubbs has to be just about gone.

  • Steve

    Because below average paid players on short term deals usually are just below average players? I know there are cries for a big bat, but there really isn’t one out there, and the Indians found a way to make a serious upgrade on Stubbs seemingly without eating too much of the budget that needs to go to pitching.

  • nj0

    And if they use Murphy like they used Raburn, exploiting his platoon split, he’ll end up being an above average performer.

    He was also on the bad side of BABIP last season. If that goes back to even close to his career number, he should be able to do around a 2 WAR.

  • Steve

    Right. This isn’t overly exciting, and will get the usual sports talk idiots riled up on the Dolans being cheap or something, but it’s a nice upgrade on the lineup spot that needed it the most (I’m expecting/hoping Chisenhall is a decent contributor at 3B next year) without breaking the bank.

  • left out

    like murphy but how much did playing at arlington help his average over the years? an advantage he won’t have here

  • nj0

    .282/.342/.472 at Arlington
    .266/.332/.413 at not Arlington

  • mgbode

    he also has these career stats vs. the Tribe:
    .343/.395/.590

  • Kildawg

    Introducing the most versatile RF in MLB: Ryvid Murburn!