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Murphy deal official, veteran looks to bounce back in Cleveland

Excited to sign with Indians, Murphy hopes for a better 2014

Murphy deal official, veteran looks to bounce back in Cleveland
November 26, 2013
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Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, to give back and come together with those around you.

Or apparently, speak up and declare what side you're on.

On Monday, the Indians finally made it official, signing outfielder David Murphy to a two year, $12 million deal with a club option for 2016.

“I wanted to go to a place where I was wanted as bad as I wanted to be there.” Murphy said. “Cleveland was very aggressive from the very beginning. They were easily the front runner the entire time and honestly, it was pretty simple, they were the first and foremost in my mind.”

The Indians also happened to be on the mind of Murphy's youngest daughter, Faith. Last week, rumors began to swirl inside her school that Murphy was on his way to the Tribe. Within hours, news of it broke all over Twitter and social media.

"She was in preschool last week and since it's Thanksgiving, they were learning about Pilgrims and Indians," Murphy said. "She happened to speak up and say, 'My daddy is going to play for the Indians.'"

"That was the first time a 5-year-old has ever broken a free agent signing," General Manager Chris Antonetti said.

Murphy, 32, played in 142 games this past season with the Texas Rangers, hitting .220 with 13 homers and 45 RBI. It was a forgettable year for the career .275 hitter, as he set personal lows in average, hits (96), RBI and OPS (.636). Despite his poor 2013 numbers, Murphy has averaged at least 14 home runs and 58 RBI over the last six years in Texas.

“I think there were a few different factors that played into it," Murphy said. “I saw that we lost Josh [Hamilton], Michael Young and Mike Napoli. I put a little bit more pressure on myself to step into a bigger role and play a bigger part in the offense. I kind of tried to recreate my own identity instead of being the same guy I’ve always been in the past."

The Indians want Murphy to be the player he was in 2012, when the veteran outfielder hit .301 with 16 homers and 61 RBI in 147 games.

"Right now, we expect him to get most of his at-bats in right field, primarily against right-handed pitching," Antonetti said. "But he will also get some opportunities against the right left-handers as well.

Murphy is a career .280 hitter in his career against righties.

"I think every player wants to be as complete of a player as possible, and I’m looking forward to getting to the old me in 2014."

The Indians organization also plan on him doing so.

"We spent quite a bit of time not only looking at the objective information, but talking with our scouts who did quite a bit of video work, looking at any tell-tale signs between his swing from 2012 and 2013," Antonetti said. "There were not very many significant differences. There is a lot of reason why we are confident that he will bounce back, and get to the player that he has been throughout his career."

Progressive Field is a good place to start, where Murphy is a career .375 at his new home ballpark.

“I don’t know if there is anything to it," he said in terms of his past success in Cleveland. "I definitely know the places I like to hit and where I feel comfortable in the box. Progressive Field is a definitely a place where I’ve always liked to hit, so it will be great to play almost half my games there.”

Drafted by the Red Sox in the first round (17th overall) in the 2003 MLB Draft, Murphy had the chance to play a little under Tribe manager Terry Francona in Boston to start his career.

“I never really got the chance to know him extremely well, but he definitely played into the decision to sign with Cleveland,” Murphy said. “He called me pretty early in the process and did a great job letting me know how interested they were, but at the same time he didn’t put any pressure on me.”

By the look of things, the only pressure the team may have right now is their outfield logjam, presumably in right field. With Murphy and Ryan Raburn set to handle the majority of the work in right field, that leaves the future of outfielder Drew Stubbs somewhat in question.

Arbitration eligible this winter, the Tribe could choose to simply non-tender Stubbs by December 2, or package him in a trade if they decide not to keep him. 

"I think as we sit here today, we feel good with the group of outfielders we have," Antonetti said. "We will continue to look for opportunities to improve the team and make adjustments as the offseason goes along. It provides us with a great deal of flexibility and versitility and that was one of our strengths last year. We're looking to build upon that heading into next year."

The newly acquired Murphy also feels good about his new ballclub.

“I think it reminds me a lot of the Rangers when we started to become a good team in 2009 and 2010,” he said. “It’s a group of young talented guys with veteran leadership like [Jason] Giambi and [Nick] Swisher mixed in, and they look like they have a lot of fun on the field. They believe in one another and honestly they won 92 games last year and only look like they’re going to get better.:

Murphy is set to make $5.5 million in 2014, $6 million in 2015 and holds a $500K buyout or a $7 million club option for the 2016 season. In order to make room for him on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Tyler Cloyd was designated for assignment.

“There’s a lot of guys I’m excited to play with on this team,"Murphy said. "I love the type of player Jason Kipnis is since he came into the league, and love what he brings in every aspects of the game. I’ve knowed Michael Bourn since high school, he’s a guy I’ve played against in college and the minor leagues. Up and down the lineup it’s very balanced and I’m excited to be a part of it."

Having played in 27 postseason games in his career, including two World Series, he also brings with him a great deal of respect for the game.

"In terms of my time with the Rangers, I am extremely blessed for every day I wore a Texas Rangers uniform," Murphy said. "The only thing that really would've made my time in Texas completely perfect is winning those World Series or one of those World Series. But I think if you look at the big picture, most players don't even have the opportunity to play in one World Series much less two, so I'm thankful for being able to play on that stage two different times."

So, third time's a charm in Cleveland?

Murphy couldn't be more thankful for another opportunity.

Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at jberdysz27@gmail.com.

User Comments

Tony
November 26, 2013 - 5:57 PM EST
If the Indians do not trade any starters in the lineup, I think they are about done adding bats. Only way I see another guy signed to a ML deal is if they trade someone like Bourn, Cabrera or someone else. I just see minor league deals being doled out to some guys a la Raburn and Giambi last year.
Hiram
November 26, 2013 - 12:48 PM EST
If I'm not mistaken Morse hit 11 HR's in April and May of last year before the injury. At that stage you're looking for role players not someone who will get 600 AB's.
Hermie13
November 26, 2013 - 12:29 PM EST
Not a big fan of Morse either. Not that good offensively and terrible defensively. Minor league deal maybe but he should get guaranteed money from someone. Consider he someone "amassed" a -1.6 fWAR in 2013! That's after a 0.0 fWAR in 2012. Was great in 2011, but that was a long-time ago and sure seems like a fluke.
Hiram
November 26, 2013 - 12:17 PM EST
Tony,

Just an idea. I think ultimately they will get a utility player or just keep Ramirez up and let him fill in at times. Like I said if they sign Jose Mijares/Joe Thatcher(who look to be non tendered), resign Kazmir and sign Crain then I will consider this a successful offseason with their solid team and depth.

I do know that the Indians have like Morse on at least two different occasions so I wouldn't be shocked if they at least contact him but it's not the best fit
Hermie13
November 26, 2013 - 12:11 PM EST
Very interested in seeing how the rest of the league views Brantley.

Doesn't do anything all that well. average is just ok, OBP is nothing special, doesn't hit for power, doesn't play plus defense. Just average across the board. If a team likes him in CF though, could maybe get you a similar style pitcher, one that is solid but doesn't have the big numbers to be a front of the rotation guy....maybe a guy like Jon Niese??
Tony
November 26, 2013 - 12:01 PM EST
If the Indians feel confident in Santana at 3B, it won't be for extended time. Maybe 25 or so games. Not a full time option there. I don't see Morse as a fit.
Hiram
November 26, 2013 - 12:00 PM EST
I also think the Indians should go after Michael Morse if they feel confident that Santana can play 3B

Lineup vs Righties:
Bourn
Asdurbal
Brantley
Santana
Kipnis
Swisher
Chisenhall
Murphy
Gomes

Lineup vs Lefties
Bourn
Asdurbal
Brantley
Santana
Kipnis
Swisher
Raburn
Morse
Gomes
Tony
November 26, 2013 - 12:00 PM EST
Agree Ron. The Indians should have even more versatility in the outfield and flexibility with matchups than they had last year. Provided of course they stay healthy. I also think the Murphy pickup allows the Indians to consider several trade options.....obviously and most likely Stubbs, but I think Bourn is a consideration....and in the right deal that bring back a ML starting pitching they could move Brantley as well.
Ron
November 26, 2013 - 11:39 AM EST
It is nice to know and recognize the difference in the 2014 outfield and the 2012 outfield.

When we looked at the 2012 outfield we had to say to ourselves who are these guys.

This year, it is going to be a mix and match-up for Francona to take advantage of the depth and play the right combination of players against the starting pitchers.

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