Indians to sign OF David Murphy
The Indians have agreed to a two-year, $12-million contract with free-agent outfielder David Murphy. The deal, which includes a club option for 2016, could be made official later this week after Murphy completes his physical.
The move gives Cleveland a new right fielder for 2014, creating a logjam of sorts in the outfield. Left and center are in order with Michael Brantley and Michael Bourn, respectively, but the Tribe currently has Murphy, Drew Stubbs and Ryan Raburn in the fold as options for right field.
The Indians could take on a platoon situation in right with Murphy handling right-handed pitching and Stubbs or Raburn handling the bulk of the at-bats against lefties. Stubbs might be the odd-man out, considering he is arbitration eligible this winter. That makes him a candidate to be traded, or non-tendered prior to the Dec. 2 deadline, in order to give the Indians some salary relief.
Murphy had a down season in 2013 (.220/.282/.374), but his production was consistent across the 2008-12 campaigns (.283/.346/.449). His .227 BaBIP in ’13 (compared to .302 for his career) also makes Murphy a strong bounceback candidate. Teaming Murphy (.271 with .789 OPS vs .RHP over past three seasons) with either Raburn (.788 OPS vs. LHP last three years) or Stubbs (.795 OPS vs. LHP last three years) in a right-field platoon has the potential to improve on Cleveland’s production out of right field in 2013 (.247/.325/.432 overall).
This also likely means Nick Swisher will stay at first base or designated hitter most of the time, as opposed to making as many starts in right as he did last season. Carlos Santana would then seemingly remain in a role that has him cycling part-time through first base, DH and catcher.
The Indians remain in the market for rotation and bullpen help.
Prior to Wednesday’s deadline for 40-man roster protection, the Indians rostered RHP Austin Adams, 1B Jesus Aguilar, INF Erik Gonzalez, OF Carlos Moncrief and RHP Bryan Price. Cleveland designated INF Cord Phelps to clear the necessary room to add all five players. When the Murphy deal is made official, the Indians will need to vacate one more spot on the 40-man roster as well.