Signing Murphy Another Solid Move

The Cleveland Indians made a wise decision to sign former Texas Rangers OF David Murphy to a two year contract the other day.

Yes, Murphy is coming off a bad season in which he hit .220 with 13 HR and 45 RBI with a 646 OPS in 2013, but if he hit like he has for the rest of his career, his asking price would have been much higher.

Prior to last season, his lowest OPS in any season in which he played 100 or more games was 729.  This happened in 2011, when he still hit .275 with 11 home runs.

For his career, he’s a .275 hitter with an OPS of 778.  Now, since he played in Texas, an extreme hitter’s ballpark, his numbers could have been inflated, but he hit .284 in Arlington and .266 on the road, not a drastic difference.

To be fair, he did show more power in the Texas ballpark.

We know that Terry Francona likes to platoon if he has two players where it works and he seems to have that with Ryan Raburn and Murphy in right field.

Against right-handers, Murphy is a .280 hitter with a .347 on base percentage and a .469 slugging percentage.  That makes him an outstanding offensive player against those pitchers.

Another thing we like about Murphy is that he puts the bat on the ball, striking out around 70-80 times per season every year since 2009. And as an added bonus, in 21 career games at Progressive Field, he hit .365 with 3 homers.

What this move means going forward is that Drew Stubbs will likely not be on the roster after December 2nd, when teams have to offer players arbitration for next season. 

Stubbs, acquired last season in the Shin-Soo Choo three-way deal, gave the Tribe plus defense and speed, but struggled at the plate. 

It is doubtful the front office will want to pay him the $3-4 million he would likely get next season to be a part-time player/defensive replacement. 

The Indians could also move Stubbs to centerfield and see what interest there is in Michael Bourn on the trade market.  While this is unlikely, if GM Chris Antonetti wants to make a big splash in a trade or on a free agent, he would probably have to move a big contract.

Bourn was bothered by injuries, but he also didn’t have a good season, hitting just .263 on the season with an on-base percentage of .316, poor for a leadoff hitter.  His OPS also dropped to 676, meaning he was a below average offensive player.

He’ll play next season at age 31, and his game is predicated on his speed, management may take a chance on moving him before his value decreases more.

Again, if Bourn is dealt it means the Tribe is freeing up money for a big time move.  Otherwise, look for the veteran to be back in Cleveland in 2014 and leading off hoping to rebound from an off-season.

The next move for Antonetti will likely involve the pitching staff because the Indians have holes to fill in both the starting rotation and the bullpen.  You have to believe Terry Francona wants a couple of veterans in those areas to replace guys like Ubaldo Jimenez and Joe Smith.

This isn’t going to be like last winter, when the Tribe signed Nick Swisher and Bourn.  But if they keep making solid moves like the Murphy signing, it will be a good hot stove season on the North Coast.

KM

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