MLB news: Indians sign David Murphy

Dilip Vishwanat

A 2-year deal likely gives the Indians a platoon in right field.

The Indians are on the verge of signing outfielder David Murphy to a two-year, $12 million deal deal, pending a physical (expected to be take place Thursday). There may be an option for 2016 as well.

Murphy has spent the last 6.5 seasons with the Texas Rangers, and has been very up and down over recent years:

Year Age G PA H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2010 28 138 471 122 26 2 12 14 2 45 71 .291 .358 .449 .806 111
2011 29 120 440 111 14 2 11 11 6 33 61 .275 .328 .401 .729 92
2012 30 147 521 139 29 3 15 10 5 54 74 .304 .380 .479 .859 126
2013 31 142 476 96 26 1 13 1 4 37 59 .220 .282 .374 .656 77

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com

Let's hope the odd-year/even-year trend continues, as Murphy, who plays solid (not great) defense) was worth ~3 WAR in 2010 and 2012, but less than 1 WAR in 2011 and 2013. It should be pointed out that Murphy has a career BABIP of .302, but it was at just .227 in 2013. That's almost certain to rebound by a good amount next season, bringing his BA, OBP, and SLG with it. He's a good bet to be at least an average hitter, probably even a bit better than that, given smart usage (one of Terry Francona's strong suits).

Murphy is a left-handed hitter, with pretty severe platoon splits. During his career, he has a batting line of .280/.347/.469 against righties, compared to just .259/.306/.350 against lefties. Basically, he shouldn't ever be facing lefties, but he's well above average against righties. That makes Murphy a sensible acquisition for the Indians, because he's well-suited to serve as a platoon partner for Ryan Raburn or Drew Stubbs. I have a very hard time seeing all three of them on the roster together though, so I expect this means the trade rumors surrounding Stubbswill lead to something in the next few weeks.

This isn't the major bat many Tribe fans were hoping for this offseason, but it does represent an upgrade, and at $5-6 million a year and a short commitment, it's a solid contract. This should leave enough money remaining in the budget to go after a solid pitcher to fill the vacancy in the rotation as well (especially if Stubbs is dealt, which would free up another ~$4 million).

Not a home run, but a solid base hit.

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