CLEVELAND — CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman was the first to report last Tuesday that the Indians had signed outfielder David Murphy to a free-agent contract. Or so we thought.
According to Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti, who made the transaction official Monday, Murphy’s daughter Faith had already broken the news to her Dallas-area preschool class and teachers.
“I think they were talking about Pilgrims and Indians in advance of Thanksgiving,” Antonetti said. “I think his daughter shouted out, ‘Hey, my daddy is going to be an Indian.’ That’s how the story broke. It’s a first for us.”
“It’s going to be a cute story some day, a funny story that we can tell (Faith) about when she’s older,” said Murphy, who will earn $12 million on a two-year deal with the Indians that includes a $7 million club option ($500,000 buyout) for 2016.
All parties concerned are counting on a return to form for Murphy, a lifetime .275 hitter over eight seasons (the last seven in Texas), who slumped to a career-low .220 batting average with 13 home runs and 45 RBIs in 142 games for the Rangers last year.
He hit .304 with 15 homers and 61 RBIs in 147 games the season before.
“If you look at his track record, he’s been pretty consistent, especially against right-handed pitching,” Antonetti said of the left-handed hitter. “We expect him to bounce back and get far closer to his career norms than how he performed last year.”
Murphy, 32, chalked up the drop in production to pressure he put on himself to help fill the offensive void left by a host of departed Texas stars.
“I saw that we lost Josh (Hamilton), that we lost Michael Young, that we lost Mike Napoli,” Murphy said, “and 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’d always been in the past.”
The Indians now have three right fielders on their roster, with Murphy expecting to platoon with either Ryan Raburn or Drew Stubbs — one of those two playing against left-handed pitching. Cleveland is shopping 2013’s primary right fielder, Stubbs, who is eligible for arbitration after hitting .233 with 10 homers and 45 RBIs in 146 games, while earning $2.825 million under a one-year contract.
Antonetti did say he could envision a scenario in which the club would open next season with all three on the roster.
Confident he has figured out what plagued him this year, Murphy is looking forward to beginning his new chapter in Cleveland.
“I wanted to go to a place where I was wanted as bad as I wanted to be there,” he said. “Cleveland was very aggressive from the very beginning.
“They have a lot of fun on the field and they believe in one another. Obviously, they won 92 games last year, and they look like they’re only going to get better.”
To make room for Murphy on the 40-man roster, the Indians designated Tyler Cloud, a RHP claimed off waivers from the Phillies on Oct. 2, for assignment.