November 25, 2013
CLEVELAND — Little Faith Murphy scooped everyone on her daddy signing with the Indians.
After free agent outfielder David Murphy agreed to terms on a contract last week with Cleveland, his 5-year-daughter, Faith, was at day care in Texas where she was learning about Thanksgiving. That’s when she broke the big news and startled some teachers.
“They were talking about Pilgrims and Indians,” Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti said on a conference call. “And she said, ‘My daddy is going to be an Indian.’ That’s a first for us.”
Murphy, who spent the past seven seasons with the Rangers, finalized a $12 million, two-year contract Monday.
Among the Indians’ offseason goals were to improve their depth in the outfield and increase their production against right-handed hitters. They feel they’ve addressed both needs by signing Murphy, who has a career .275 average and can play all three outfield positions.
Murphy had a down season in 2013, batting a career-low .220 with 13 homers and 45 RBIs in 142 games. The Indians are confident he’ll put up statistics more in line with his career numbers.
“In talking to David, with Josh Hamilton leaving (via free agency), he put some pressure on himself and maybe tried to do a little more,” Antonetti said. “We expect him to bounce back and get closer to his norms next year.”
Murphy played mostly left field, but the Indians will use him in all three spots. Antonetti expects manager Terry Francona to primarily give Murphy the bulk of his at-bats while playing right field, where he can platoon with Ryan Raburn or Drew Stubbs, who is eligible for salary arbitration.
“He will give Terry the opportunity to mix and match,” Antonetti said. “It will keep guys healthy and fresh. We feel like we can match up well with whoever is pitching.”
Murphy will receive salaries of $5.5 million next year and $6 million in 2015, and the Indians have a $7 million option for 2016 with a $500,000 buyout.
His 2016 salary can increase by $1.5 million: $250,000 each for 500, 525, 550 and 575 plate appearances, and $500,000 for 600. He would receive a $100,000 bonus if traded.
A left-handed hitter, Murphy batted .304 in 2012 with 15 homers and 61 RBIs in 147 games. He finished among the AL leaders in on-base percentage and average.
Murphy was drafted by Boston in 2003 and traded to Texas in 2007.