David Murphy Rumors

AL Notes: Rays, Indians, Buehrle, Rangers

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.

Indians Notes: Murphy, Westbrook, Tanaka

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.

NL West Notes: Kemp, Veras, Crain, Padres

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.


Indians Sign David Murphy

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. Murphy-DavidHe 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 Notes: Daniels, Maddux, Murphy, Young

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.

Quick Hits: Rangers, A’s, Jeter, Nationals, Phillies

In an attempt to compensate for the looming loss of Nelson Cruz to his 50-game suspension, the Rangers tried to swing a big trade for Justin Upton at the July trade deadline, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. The Braves refused a package of Matt Garza, Joe Nathan and David Murphy. If those are the only three players the Rangers offered, it's not a surprise that the Braves passed — Garza and Murphy are eligible for free agency after the season, while Upton is a good young player who is under contract through 2015. Eventually, of course, the Rangers acquired Alex Rios in August. Here are more notes from around the Majors.

  • The Athletics clinched their second AL West title in a row with an 11-7 win over the Twins on Sunday, and GM Billy Beane says the team's depth has been the key to their smooth season, John Hickey of InsideBayArea.com reports. "We knew going in this was the deepest roster we’d ever had here," says Beane. "We needed that depth, and it paid for itself." As Hickey points out, the Athletics hardly missed a beat all season, even though Brett Anderson, Josh Reddick, John Jaso and Derek Norris all missed significant time. Here are more notes from around the Majors. A quietly brilliant season from Josh Donaldson surely helped, but the A's got solid offensive and defensive performances from most of their hitters, and other than Anderson, their starting rotation mostly stayed healthy.
  • After taking in the ceremony for Mariano Rivera and the applause for Andy Pettitte on Sunday, it dawned on injured Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter that he had played his final game with his two retiring teammates, Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger reports. "I’m going to miss them a lot," says Jeter. "These guys have been brothers to me. We’ve been through quite a bit together. Pretty much everything you can experience on a field. In my whole professional career, I’ve been playing with at least one of them." The three had their rookie seasons together with the 1995 Yankees, and Jeter and Pettitte also played on many of the same minor-league teams, including Class A Greensboro in 1992 and and Triple-A Columbus in 1994 and 1995.
  • Pitcher Dan Haren thinks the Nationals should aim to keep their team together, writes MLB.com's Andrew Simon. "Last year they had a great year and this year we’ve shown a lot of fight here the last few months. I think as close as things could stay to the guys in this room, I think the better," Haren says. He also appears to support bench coach Randy Knorr for the Nationals' managerial position, which will be open when Davey Johnson retires after the season. Haren himself is a free agent, of course, and he seems aware that he might not be part of the 2014 Nationals, even if they ultimately go with a similar roster: "I know there’ll be some subtle changes, me probably being one of them."
  • Now that the Phillies have settled on Ryne Sandberg as their manager, they'll now turn their attention to their coaching staff, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reports. With a new manager, it's typical to have at least some change in the rest of the coaching staff. Zolecki mentions that one potential change might be re-hiring former manager Larry Bowa in some capacity.
  • A "winter of discontent" is on the way for Phillies fans, writes Bob Ford of the Inquirer. After a recent streak of successful seasons, Ford says, a team elsewhere might "get a standing ovation and then be allowed to attempt its rebuilding with patient if not fervent support. That might be the case here as well, if only the team would get on with the rebuilding." Instead, the Phils will head into the offseason expecting to keep aging veterans Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cliff Lee. They might also go into 2014 with Carlos Ruiz still at catcher, and perhaps also with Roy Halladay in the rotation. Ford compares the Phillies to a rock band who are still touring long past the point where they've lost relevance, "dyeing their hair and wearing hearing aids."

Quick Hits: Vlad, Murphy, Ryan, Lester

On this date in 2002, the Mets claimed a 26-year-old shortstop off waivers from the Brewers. He had just posted a .295/.382/.432 batting line in Triple-A Indianapolis a year prior, and would go on to make his Major League debut for the Mets that season. The infielder would bat just .216/.299/.351 in 129 plate appearances for the Mets over the next two years before being plucked off waivers again — this time by the A's. Marco Scutaro would eventually cement himself as a late bloomer and ultimately help the Giants to a World Series title before inking a three-year, $20MM contract this offseason. Here are some links from around the league as we enter the season's first full weekend…

  • Vladimir Guerrero turned down offers to play in Taiwan and in Quebec to sign with the Long Island Ducks, writes ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick goes on to explain that Guerrero's goal is to get back into Major League Baseball and chase the 500-homer plateau. He's currently 51 long balls shy with 449 in his career.
  • There have been no serious extension talks between David Murphy and the Rangers, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Murphy plans to play out the season and think about his next deal in the offseason.
  • Nolan Ryan will be at the Rangers home opener today, and he's taking a "wait-and-see" approach as he decides his future with the team, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that a rebound campaign from Red Sox lefty Jon Lester will likely result in a mega-deal that's comparable to some of the "silly money" deals doled out to starting pitchers around the game recently. Cafardo breaks down the track records of pitchers like Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels and others and compares them to Lester.

Quick Hits: Pettitte, Murphy, Soriano, Greinke

Cesar Carrillo, a right-handed pitcher in the Tigers system, became the first player listed in the Biogenesis documents to be suspended, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports (twitter link).  As FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal and others have noted, MLB has "greater jurisdiction over minor leaguers like Carrillo than major leaguers who are protected by the players' union."  Here are some other notes from around the majors:

  • Mariano Rivera's retirement plans have fellow Yankee stalwart Andy Pettitte wondering how and when to end his own "long, strange journey," as Daniel Barbarisi of The Wall Street Journal describes it.  Pettitte sees some merit to ending his career around the same time as those of his long-time teammates, but does not want to "stop playing until I know that I'm done."
  • Outfielder David Murphy is still waiting to work out a long-term extension with the Rangers after discussing that possibility with the club earlier in the offseason, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.  While Murphy reiterated that he wants to remain a Ranger and has no hard feelings for the lack of progress towards a deal, he added that free agency is a "privilege" and that "waiting another year is not going to kill me."
  • While the Cubs "feel the presence of teams watching Alfonso Soriano," nevertheless "no substantive talks have taken place yet," tweets Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe.  Cafardo mentions the Phillies and Yankees as teams that are "on [the] radar" for a possible Soriano deal.
  • With Zack Greinke still dealing with elbow issues, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly indicated that the right-handed starter is facing an ever-narrowing window to be ready for the start of the regular season, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.  As has previously been noted, Greinke's timeline could impact the availability of the Dodgers' excess starting pitching options, such as Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang.

AL West Notes: Murphy, Angels, Vasquez

We've already looked at some Astros notes and two international signings by the A's today, so let's check in with the rest of the AL West…

  • Rangers outfielder David Murphy isn't concerned about his upcoming free agency after the season, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports.  With another good season, Crasnick opines that Murphy could top Shane Victorino's three-year, $39MM contract with the Red Sox and Angel Pagan's four-year, $40MM deal with the Giants.  Murphy, a Houston native, says he wants to remain with Texas and the two sides discussed an extension last month.  
  • The Angels outrighted Bobby Cassevah off the 40-man roster earlier today and MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link) hears the move was "more a formality" and that the team isn't looking to fill the roster spot with any specific player.  The Angels currently have 39 players on their 40-man roster.
  • After undergoing brain surgery in November, left-hander Anthony Vasquez is already back working out in the Mariners' minor league camp, MLB.com's Greg Johns writes.  Vasquez made seven starts for Seattle in 2011 and made 11 starts at Triple-A Tacoma last season before being shut down with a shoulder injury.

Rangers, Murphy Have Talked Long-Term Deal

The Rangers have had discussions with Mike Moye, the agent for David Murphy, assistant general manager Thad Levine tells MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Murphy agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.775MM earlier today, avoiding arbitration for the final time before hitting free agency. According to Levine, the team preferred to "get through [arbitration] first and then continue that dialogue later."

"Later" could mean Spring Training, writes Sullivan. As he points out, the Rangers have hammered out significant extensions for both Derek Holland and Ian Kinsler during Spring Training in recent years. That line of thinking also allows the Rangers to have a better sense of their long-term outfield picture. As it stands, the team is still interested in both Justin Upton and Michael Bourn. Acquiring either could impact potential extension talks for Murphy.

According to Sullivan, the team is also interested in discussing a long-term deal for Nelson Cruz, but no talks have taken place as of yet. Those, much like talks with Murphy, are likely to occur during Spring Training. Cruz signed a two-year, $16MM contract with the Rangers last offseason that bought out his final two years of arbitration. The 32-year-old is eligible to become a free agent following the 2013 season.