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Weighing the pros and cons of the David Murphy signing

Weighing the pros and cons of the David Murphy signing
November 22, 2013
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David Murphy’s signing was some of the biggest news so far during the baseball offseason. The question is was this a good move for the Indians and what does it mean for the Indians plans this offseason.

The positives in adding Murphy is that at $6 million a year he could be a bargain as a possible starter in right field for the Indians. He is coming off a down year where his numbers were down across the board, but his BABIP was .227 last year which shows he was incredibly unlucky.  His average BABIP is .302, which is with the down year added in. He had over a hundred point drop in BABIP from 2012 to 2013, so this makes him a prime bounce back candidate.

Murphy is going to rebound; it is only a matter of how much.

Murphy has shown good doubles power and won’t rack up the strikeouts like other guys in the Indians lineup.  He should have about a 100 less strikeouts than some of the free swingers like Jason Kipnis or Michael Bourn.  His OPS+ for his career (104) is slightly above average as is his wRC+ (103). Murphy is not a big name, but he is an above average regular for his career, who might put up even better numbers if the Indians use him in a platoon with Raburn.

Also, when you look at the market you have to like this deal more.

Murphy is 32 years old and will cost $12 million over two years with a long track record of success as a solid starter in the league. David DeJesus is 33 years old and is at best a marginal starter with less success than Murphy and he got $10.5 million over two years. Then there is Marlon Byrd who got $16 million over two years even though he is 35 years old and just a year ago looked like his baseball career was done.

All of that being said, there are some negatives and risks with signing Murphy. He has been a slightly below average defender during his career according to metrics. I have seen a few people talk about him as an above average defender, but the numbers say he is basically average to slightly below average.

Also, Murphy is coming off the worst year of his career and just turned 32 years old. The issue is even bigger when you realize that he had the two worst years of his career over the last three years.  He did have a career year in between but that was at age 30 which means that it might have been the final high note before decline.

Speaking of decline, Murphy for his career has been a righty killer; then this year he couldn’t touch them. I am not sure why, maybe it was an injury or something else but it scares me that his ability to torch righties disappeared.  For his entire career counting his tough year this season his OPS against righties is .807, this year it was .639. The Indians are bringing him in to platoon and hit righties, and if he can’t do that then the Indians just wasted $12 million and a roster spot over the next two years.

The other major concern I have with Murphy is his home and away splits. I know people brought up how well he hit at Progressive Field but that sample size is too small to matter. Murphy’s on-base percentage is only about ten points lower on the road versus at home, but the bigger issue is that his slugging percentage is about 70 points lower which is a big hit - pun intended. There is no doubt his power numbers benefited a lot from playing in Texas. He was typically about a 28 doubles, 13 home run guy. Outside of Texas I would think he might see a 20% decline in his power numbers.

My finally conclusion is that the Indians are getting an average player, but at only $6 million a year an average player would be a steal. I like the signing, but realize there is a chance this could blow up in their face. It is not a huge move, but if it is just the first of many, then I like it.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at

User Comments

November 23, 2013 - 10:19 AM EST
That's a great point by Underwood. The Indians are a small market team with a limited budget. The reason they can't sign a Ubaldo or a Kazmir is because they have to lay out $12 million for a part-time right fielder, or $50 million for an average starting center fielder or an average first baseman. If their farm system could just produce a few decent platoon players, not even an everyday starter, they would have more money to sign a guy like Kazmir or go get a closer.
Matt underwood
November 23, 2013 - 1:02 AM EST
There would be no need for David Murphy if our organization could produce at the very least a platoon player.

Bud grant and company are awful at their jobs
November 23, 2013 - 12:07 AM EST
It's an excellent move. He's a proven commodity coming off a down year where he was pushed to be what he isn't, the same way Rayburn was punked in Detroit. It's a perfect fit - with the added bonus that he has a history with Tito already.

Rayburn was left for dead after he failed to move into a full-time productive gig - came here and had a career year and become a big part of our success.

There is every reason to expect Murphy to do the same.
November 22, 2013 - 6:30 PM EST
The real reason this signing makes sense is because we already have Raburn (and he's signed for the next two years as well). Its slightly irritating when I see people here and elsewhere bring up the failure of Delucci/Michaels as the comparable, when there are many other examples of platoon pairs that have worked out very well. Look at the world champs, they had Nava and Gomes sharing LF and that worked out pretty good for them. The other likely platoon position on the team is 3B, and while it may be possible to upgrade from Aviles, that's not likely, unless we unload Cabrera and Aviles becomes the full-time SS. Even then, we probably won't get a whole lot more (in the field or at bat) than what we got from Aviles last year.
November 22, 2013 - 4:37 PM EST
i suspect that ross adkins will ultimately move paulino to the outfield so it becomes how far are salmander and paulino and washington from seeing cleveland in the meantime we need to sort of mix and match bits and pieces of outfield help. The only continuity is left field and mike brantley. Ihope 2013 was an aberition from mike bourn. I suspect he is a much better player than we saw and isnt slowing down. as for the above mentioned players i do not consider their numbers at lake county to be a determinate factor. I suspect both are blue chip prospects. I suppose Murphy is decent place holder i would love to somehow get a player like oakland did from boston when they picked up the right filelder who had boston thought he was gonna perform at that level they would not have traded him. Stubbs is frustrating he obviously thinks he is a power hitter and three years in the big leagues hasn't xonvinced him to start playing small ball try to hit the ball on the ground and bunt more often. until that transition happens he will not find anyone to value his defensive skills. WAKE UP DREW IF you read these blogs. 55 yrs of following baseb all closely it is obvious what i have just said. What you did at the university of texas is not an indication of the type of player you have matured too. SMALL BALL DREW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
November 22, 2013 - 12:10 PM EST
Murphy will become a fan favorite. A blue collar player on a blue collar team. Raburn and Murphy holding down the RF position. Signing him will allow Moncrief, Holt and other OF prospects to develop in the minors this year to become options hopefully beginning in 15.
November 22, 2013 - 11:23 AM EST
Dirty Murph's numbers at Progressive Field in a limited sample size is .365/.407/.568. A triple slash line with a .975 OPS says this is a guy who loves to hit in Cleveland. It's also well known that Dirty Murph is a superb clubhouse guy and is uber town/fan friendly. He should bring a presence to the locker room and will fit in very well. He knows his role as a corner OF'er against RHP's.. this is about as good of a signing as can be expected by the Indians for this off season. Congrats on the signing !!
November 22, 2013 - 11:20 AM EST
Cleveland is a favorable park for power for left-handed hitters, so a 20% decline based on moving from Texas to Cleveland would be extreme.

I really don't think it's realistic at all to trade Bourn, unless it's part of some larger package. You either pay his salary and get a prospect or it's a pure salary dump. The team is worse with Stubbs in CF than Bourn, so why would you want to do either? If there were outfield prospects knocking on the door it would be different, but it's the one position where there's not really much upside in-house.
November 22, 2013 - 2:40 AM EST
Trade. Michael. Bourn.

Get any other left-handed hitter at this point. I am a proud one-noter. Murphy is a minor piece. Little pitching is available, need to go hitting.

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