As I wrote yesterday, T.R. Sullivan has a piece up on the team website discussing the Rangers in “contract discussions” — whatever that means — with free agent to-be David Murphy. As we know, a few weeks ago the Rangers agreed to terms with Murphy without having to enter an arbitration hearing, paying him $5.775 million for the 2013 season.
So it got me thinking: is it really worth it to extend David Murphy?
My initial impression says “no,” we shouldn’t. But why? Well, mainly because I don’t think he is a necessary contributor — for how much money he makes — past 2013. Issuing a small commitment of $5.775 million for one year to a career 119 wRC+ hitter vs. RHP, that amount is just fine, especially for a guy who also flashes average speed and defense. His problem is against lefties, which is why, even now, after his remarkable 2012 campaign (.304/.380/.479, 127 wRC+), I still consider him to be a platoon outfielder. For a guy who hits right-handed pitching as well as Murphy does, that loosely translates to between 105 and 115 starts a year. That production has its place and all, but I don’t think it’s worth $9-$10 million a year.
Before last season, in which he posted an untenable .433 BABIP vs. LHP and finished the season with 4.0 fWAR, his previous career-high WAR figure was a mere 1.9.
To dig deeper, beyond the constraint of my first impression, there is a school of thought in defense of keeping Murphy. I don’t know if that means extending him into 2014 or 2015, but it has its reasoning.
See, the Rangers have a pretty loaded farm system, but most of the cream has already risen to the top. Guys like Tanner Scheppers and Robbie Ross have graduated to the Major Leagues, Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt and Martin Perez are on the doorstep. Beyond that, the cupboard is pretty bare until you get down to Single-A. That’s where future top-100 outfielders Lewis Brinson, Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman reside.
Another issue is that the outfielder who plays opposite Murphy, Nelson Cruz, is also in a contract year. I’m not sure if the Rangers have an opinion one way or the other about Cruz’s alleged PED usage, but it couldn’t possibly have helped his cause to get an extension of his own. That, and David Murphy is probably less expensive on the free agent market (3/$30 million?) than Nelson Cruz.
It comes down to semantics. (Don’t most things?)
Would you rather keep Murphy at, say, a three year extension worth $30 million, or instead pay two players significantly less money to equally replace his on-field production?
Being that Murphy is not essential to the franchise like, say, Yu Darvish, or Ian Kinsler, or Adrian Beltre, or Jurickson Profar, that makes him expendable. Perhaps I’m neglecting the human factor in this, too, because Murphy is an ex-Baylor Bear and all that, but I prefer to view business through darker lenses.
In Murphy’s case, I would rather pay cheaper replacements.