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David Murphy Rumors
Recently-retired veteran Kevin Youkilis will be joining the Cubs as a special assistant, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports on Twitter. The connection will be obvious for many: Youkilis rose to prominence and made most of his impact on the field playing for former Red Sox GM and current Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.
Here’s more from the central divisions:
- Pirates starter Francisco Liriano held talks with the Red Sox, Twins, Astros, and Royals before re-signing with Pittsburgh, the lefty told Dan Zangrilli of 93.7 The Fan (Twitter links). Kansas City went as high as $36MM over three years, said Liriano, who ultimately took home $39MM from the Pirates. Interestingly, Liriano noted that he felt the qualifying offer did not significantly hinder his market.
- If Brandon Moss and Nick Swisher prove their health this spring, outfielder David Murphy (or another roster candidate) will likely need to be dealt before breaking camp, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. It may be hard to find a taker without eating a good bit of Murphy’s $6MM salary, should that come to pass. For now, this remains an interesting story to watch over the coming months.
- While the Tigers do have some worrying signs in their large contracts and low-rated farm, they are not yet facing the kind of difficulties that the Phillies have found, Mike Petriello of Fangraphs writes. If nothing else, Detroit still looks to be legitimately competitive at present, and has time to prepare for a soft landing when its window does finally begin closing.
Indians president Mark Shapiro says the team has the flexibility to add payroll if the right opportunity presents itself, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian writes. “We try not to be encumbered at all by what payroll is and salaries are. Is there a way for us to creatively handle it?” says Shapiro. “[W]hat kills deals 95 percent of the time is not payroll, but player asks. Salary is not usually where it stops, but player asks.” The Indians’ only significant moves this offseason have been their acquisitions of Brandon Moss and Gavin Floyd, but it sounds like they could consider making other additions either this winter or in-season. Here are more notes from Cleveland, which hosted Tribe Fest this weekend.
- Shapiro says the Indians plan to consider an extension for Corey Kluber in the near future, reports Bastian. “As prioritization of the calendar goes, it’s something we’ll probably look at over the next couple of months,” says Shapiro, cautioning that it’s not clear whether Kluber and the Indians will be able to agree to terms. “He has all the precursors that we would look for to enter into a multiyear agreement.” Last August, MLBTR’s Jeff Todd reviewed Kluber’s extension prospects. The Indians already control Kluber through his age-32 season, but with an extension, they could control him for even longer while keeping his arbitration-year salaries reasonable. Meanwhile, Kluber, who is still a zero-to-three player, would get long-term security.
- With Moss’ addition and a variety of other corner outfield/DH types on the Indians’ roster, outfielder David Murphy understands that he’ll lose playing time but would not mind being traded if his plate appearances stood to be drastically cut, Bastian writes. “I’m prepared to lose playing time, but not to the point where I’m going to get 150 at-bats,” Murphy says. “If that’s the case, and that’s the best-case scenario for them and for me, I’m open to [a trade].” Murphy adds that he understands if the Indians need to wait and see whether Moss, who had hip surgery in October, and Nick Swisher, who had knee surgery in August, are healthy. Murphy, 33, hit a passable .262/.319/.385 in his first season in Cleveland in 2015, although with defense that rated as significantly below average. He has one more season on his contract, plus a $500K buyout on a $7MM option for 2016.
The Indians have a logjam of players who can handle right field, first base and DH, but Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that the surplus doesn’t mean a trade is likely. David Murphy‘s name has come up in rumors, but team has to first determine the health status of Nick Swisher, Brandon Moss and Ryan Raburn. Swisher had surgery on both knees in August, Moss had hip surgery in October and Raburn had left knee surgery in September in addition to dealing with a sore wrist for much of the season. Hoynes provides a health update on each player, and he also spoke with Francona, who sounded happy to have a number of options on his hands: “You walk that fine line. You have guys who expect playing time … but at the same time we can’t let our season be derailed by the unknown. I think [GM] Chris [Antonetti] did a really god job protecting us … I think it’s going to make us a better team and protect us from the unknown.”
A couple more Indians notes…
- The Indians’ signing of Gavin Floyd was all about adding depth and innings to a promising but young rotation, writes MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. While the team does have other arms that had figured to compete for time in the rotation, they can continue to develop in the upper minors and remain ready to step in if a need arises.
- Also from Bastian, the club announced today that Jason Bere, a special assistant to the baseball operations department, has been named the club’s new bullpen coach in the wake of Kevin Cash’s departure to manage the Rays. “He’s been with the organization a long time, so everybody knows him,” Francona told Bastian. “By design, we had him around a lot, not just in Spring Training, but in September and at a few key points during the year, because of what he can add to a staff.”
- After receiving his release today from Cleveland, righty Tyler Cloyd is expected to reach agreement with the KBO’s Samsung Lions, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. The club had announced that it was releasing Cloyd so that he could pursue an opportunity in Korea.
With the addition of right-handed pitcher Gavin Floyd, the Indians have a wealth of rotation options, writes Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The unit is more about projection than proven ability, which is why the club signed Floyd. Cleveland now has seven starting pitchers competing to fill out the rotation behind Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. Zach McAllister, who is expected to join the bullpen, is out of options, as are Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco. The latter pair and Floyd are thought to have roles locked down, which leaves T.J. House, Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin, and McAllister to battle for the last spot – assuming Floyd is healthy.
- Speaking of Floyd, other pitchers with an injury history, like Brett Anderson, Kris Medlen, Luke Hochevar, and Justin Masterson signed for more guaranteed money than Floyd this offseason. That’s why Floyd was able to sign for $4MM plus another $6MM in incentives despite missing 2013 for Tommy John surgery and the second half of 2014 with a broken elbow. From his perspective, Floyd chose Cleveland in part due to their strong track record with injured and struggling veterans. Recently, Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez revived their careers with the Indians.
- The Indians have a handful of left-handed outfielders, which leads Pluto to believe David Murphy will be traded. Murphy is owed $6MM in 2015. This is my speculation, but we learned earlier today that the Giants could turn to the trade market for a left-handed outfielder.
- Nick Howard, the Reds first round pick (19th overall) has joined Jeff Randazzo and the Ballengee Group, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. For more agency related information, visit MLBTR’s Agency Database.
Here’s the latest from the American League:
- With Melky Cabrera off the board, Alex Rios remains on the Mariners‘ radar, tweets Bob Dutton of The News Tribune. Cabrera agreed to a three-year contract with the White Sox yesterday, which should pay him roughly $14-$14.5MM per season.
- MLB.com’s Greg Johns entertains other scenarios (both external and internal) in which the Mariners can fill their vacancy in right field.
- The Rangers have $10-12MM in financial flexibility remaining; but, because of the health questions surrounding their core players, they could sit on that cash until midseason when they will have had time to gauge what kind of team they really have, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
- Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes wonders if Indians outfielder David Murphy is more of a platoon player at this stage of his career and believes a reader’s proposed trade of Murphy to the Mets for Ohio native Jon Niese would favor the Indians.
- The White Sox have filled many holes with their high-profile acquisitions this offseason, but right field, second base, third base, and catcher remain areas of concern, opines Jim Margalus of South Side Sox.
- The Twins have invested heavily in the free agent market this offseason and last because payroll was shed and there’s optimism over the performance of Minnesota’s young core, writes 1500ESPN.com’s Phil Mackey.
In the wake of yesterday’s report Rays ownership has discussed relocating the franchise to Montreal, Commissioner Bud Selig paused and then declined to answer whether Tampa Bay is a viable major league market, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Selig did say, however, the team needs a replacement for Tropicana Field. “The team has to have a ballpark that makes them competitive,” the commissioner said before Game Four of the World Series. “It doesn’t produce the kind of revenue they need.”
In other news involving the Rays and the American League:
- Change is coming to the Rays and the front office and players alike don’t see it as a negative, writes the Tampa Tribune’s Roger Mooney. “Whoever we bring in here, they’re going to set the scheme and how they want to win games and be a successful organization,” said pitcher Alex Cobb. “When that trickles down to the players, all that is is us playing up to our capabilities, and that doesn’t matter who is in the dugout or the front office.” Mooney notes all coaches are under contract for 2015; but, if the new manager is from outside the organization, there may be changes to the staff.
- In today’s mailbag, a reader proposed his Indians offseason plan to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer: trade Jason Kipnis and David Murphy for prospects to free up money, then use that money on Victor Martinez. Hoynes doesn’t see the Tribe trading Kipnis so soon after giving him a $50MM+ extension, despite his bad year. The reader’s ambitious plan also calls for Cleveland to have one of their young outfielders form a platoon with Nick Swisher and, given his $15MM salary, Hoynes believes the team wants to see him in the lineup every day.
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe identified Mark Buehrle as a trade candidate earlier today and Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets the Twins have long been admirers of the Blue Jays hurler. Still, his $19MM salary is too high.
- If the Jon Daniels-Jeff Banister partnership works in Texas, it will continue a trend in the game of a college educated GM with no professional playing experience working with a baseball lifer as manager, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
Of all the baseball news that broke in 2013, the story of how David Murphy's contract with the Indians became public has to be the most unique. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer relates how Murphy and the Tribe had agreed to terms but were keeping the deal under wraps until it was finalized…only to have Murphy's five-year-old daughter spill the beans to her kindergarten class during a lesson about Thanksgiving. “She was in preschool and they were learning about Pilgrims and Indians,” Murphy told reporters last month. “She spoke up that her dad was going to the Indians. Obviously, the word spreads quickly because of social media. It’s not the best situation, but it’s a good story to tell her when she gets older.”
Here's some more Tribe-related notes from Hoynes, as part of a reader mailbag…
- The Indians don't have any current interest in Jake Westbrook, who pitched in Cleveland from 2001-10. Westbrook hit free agency after the Cardinals bought out his 2014 option but it's been a pretty quiet winter of rumors about the veteran right-hander. Hoynes reported in October that the Tribe would "keep an eye" on Westbrook but nothing seems to have come of that interest. Westbrook, 36, posted a 4.63 ERA in 116 2/3 IP with the Cardinals last season and had trouble missing bats, as he recorded only 44 strikeouts (against 50 walks).
- A right-handed power bat isn't high on the club's priority list as the Indians are focused on adding pitching.
- Hoynes figures the Indians will post a $20MM bid for Masahiro Tanaka since they "have nothing to lose" in doing so, given that only the team that signs Tanaka has to pay the $20MM posting fee. While the Indians may check on the Japanese righty, however, Hoynes thinks larger-market teams will offer Tanaka a much bigger contract offer.
- Hoynes thinks Ubaldo Jimenez will end up signing with the Blue Jays, Diamondbacks or Yankees. The Tanaka signing could affect this prediction as the latter two teams are known to be heavily interested in Tanaka and Toronto will likely be interested as well.
- Francisco Lindor is only likely to see time as a September callup, and that's only if the Indians' star prospect rebounds from a 2013 back injury and impresses in his first taste of Double-A and Triple-A baseball. Lindor's progress will also naturally impact the Tribe's future decision on Asdrubal Cabrera, who will be a free agent next winter. Cleveland is known to be listening to trade offers for Cabrera, who is coming off a down year in 2013.
Dave Stewart, Matt Kemp's agent, has a "strong feeling something could happen" involving his client at the Winter Meetings, the former pitcher tells ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes. "This is the first time we've experienced this," Stewart said. "This is the first time we've heard it this much, and the first time we really believe something could happen." The Dodgers have been listening to offers for Kemp, and the Mariners, Rangers and Red Sox have all been linked to the outfielder, plus other teams.
Here's the latest from around the NL West…
- The Rockies are still looking for bullpen help and have maintained their interest in Jose Veras and Jesse Crain, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports (Twitter links). The club's interest in Crain, of course, hinges on whether he is healthy following the shoulder injury that prematurely ended his 2013 season.
- The Rockies had interest in Corey Hart and Mike Morse but both players profiled better as first basemen, Renck notes, a position that Colorado has since addressed by signing Justin Morneau. The Rockies have a hole in left field, with Carlos Gonzalez shifting to center and Michael Cuddyer remaining in right.
- The Padres had some interest in David Murphy and Nate McLouth, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweets. With Murphy and McLouth respectively signed by the Indians and Nationals, however, San Diego's search for a left-handed hitting outfielder may have ended with their trade for Seth Smith.
- Ichiro Suzuki seems relegated to the bench in New York, so John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links) thinks the Giants should try to acquire the veteran address their outfield depth. Shea notes that Suzuki and Giants manager Bruce Bochy share an agent, plus Suzuki could be cheaply acquired from the Yankees. San Francisco had some interest in Ichiro when he was a free agent last winter.
It's not as flashy as their signings of Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher last offseason, but the Indians added to their outfield depth by officially signing David Murphy to a two-year contract with a third-year club option, the team announced on Monday. Murphy's contract is reportedly worth $12MM. He will earn $5.5MM in 2014, $6MM in 2015 and has a $500K buyout on a $7MM club option for the 2016 season. Murphy is represented by Moye Sports Associates, according to the MLBTR Agency Database.
Murphy, 31, hurt his free agent stock in 2013 with a career-worst .220/.282/.374 in 476 plate appearances. While Murphy seemed destined for a sizable deal after 2012, a season in which he posted an OPS of .859, he raised question marks for clubs in his follow-up act and didn't make Tim Dierkes' Top 50 Free Agents list. The left fielder has spent the last seven years in Texas, posting a .275/.337/.441 slash line in that span.
With Bourn and Michael Brantley as virtual locks in the 2014 outfield, Murphy's addition brings Drew Stubbs' role with the club into further question. The two could form a platoon, as Murphy has a .280/.347/.469 slash line against righties in his career, and Stubbs has slashed .274/.349/.448 against lefties. That platoon would figure to pay the pair $9.3MM, however, which might be spendy for a solid but not elite tandem. The Indians could trade or non-tender Stubbs and give Murphy the bulk of at-bats in right field.
Murphy began the 2013 season as Texas' starting left fielder but fell into a slump and saw his playing time dwindle. A return to the Rangers was viewed as unlikely and it now appears that the club has their eyes on more ambitious outfield targets such as Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury, with Choo possibly being higher on their list. The Rangers could also bring back Nelson Cruz to give them pop in one of the corners.
Jamie Kelly of Shutdown Inning was the first to report that the Indians would sign Murphy (on Twitter). Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News then reported that it was a two-year deal. The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes reported that Murphy would receive $12MM, and his contract contained a club option (on Twitter). MLB.com's Jordan Bastian provided the financial breakdown (on Twitter).
Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux is "more interested" in the Cubs manager's job than he was two years ago, a source tells ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers. The Cubs were interested in Maddux in 2011 but he pulled himself out of the process due to family considerations, though that "isn't as big of a concern" this time around. The Cubs have yet to contact Maddux during their current search for a new bench boss. Here's the latest from Arlington…
- GM Jon Daniels discussed his relationship with Nolan Ryan, coaching changes, Jurickson Profar's development and other Rangers topics during a recent appearance on "The Ben and Skin Show" on 105.3 The Fan radio (partial transcript provided by the Dallas Morning News). In regards to how the team will address Profar and the crowded middle infield picture, Daniels said, “If [a trade] helps us get better and win, then yeah, and I think we’d consider trading somebody. If it doesn’t, we’re not going to force it. There are a lot worse problems than having too many good players for a position.”
- Also from that interview, Daniels discussed his club's offseason needs. "Catching is an area that we need to address, as is our offense and run production in general, and there's a couple different spots we can look to add some offense. I think you're always in the market for pitching," Daniels said.
- David Murphy will likely be playing elsewhere in 2014, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan writes as part of a reader mailbag. The 31-year-old hit a career-worst .220/.282/.374 in 476 PA, drastically lowing his stock on the free agent market this winter. Sullivan speculates that Murphy could be a good fit on the Astros or Giants.
- Also from Sullivan's mailbag, he notes that Michael Young could retire at the end of this season. Young turns 37 later this month and his contract will be up as soon as the Dodgers' playoff run ends.
- Sullivan guesses that the Rangers would have to give up Profar, a top pitching prospect like Luke Jackson, and also a big hitting prospect from the lower minors to acquire David Price from the Rays.
- If the Rangers signed Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu, Sullivan doesn't think it would necessarily mean the end of Mitch Moreland's time with the club since the Rangers need more bats.
- Earlier today on MLBTR, Zach Links included an item about the Rangers as part of a "Texas Notes" post.