Good Guy David Murphy Hangs It Up
Bob Toth | On 26, Apr 2016
Less than nine months after he was a deadline trade by the Cleveland Indians to the Los Angeles Angels, former Tribe outfielder David Murphy is walking away from the game of baseball.
On Sunday, Murphy left the Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A affiliate Rochester after the game and returned home to Dallas, where his wife and children still live after his lengthy career in Texas with the Rangers. He asked for, and was granted, his release on Monday.
“I think I’m done playing,” Murphy shared with Mike Berardino of The Pioneer Press via telephone interview. “It was definitely a tough decision, but it wasn’t an emotional decision I made over a few minutes or even an hour. A lot of time went into it, and I know I made the right decision.”
Murphy, 34, had signed with the Twins two weeks after his release by the Boston Red Sox. He had spent spring training with the Sox after signing with the club on a minor league contract at the end of February, reuniting him with the organization that selected him with a 17th overall pick in the 2003 draft. As camp was coming to a close and the outfield mix was packed with options in Boston, Murphy had given an impression that he had no intentions on playing in the minors and living life again on buses after spending the past ten years on American League rosters.
At the end of March, he exercised the opt-out clause in his contract and became a free agent.
“My dream my entire life is to be a major league baseball player,” said Murphy in a quote in the Star-Telegram on April 23. “If I can’t live that dream, then there was no reason to play baseball anymore.”
It was not an easy off-season for the former Tribe outfielder, who spent parts of two seasons in Cleveland with the Indians in 2014 and 2015.
“It was frustrating. At first I thought it was because I needed to wait for the dominoes to fall. The market was very slow, and nothing happened, nothing happened,” said Murphy in the Star-Telegram story. “I took it on a week-to-week basis thinking the phone is going to ring this week, the phone is going to ring this week, and it never did.”
When Murphy reported to Rochester, the Twins’ outfield situation was unresolved with a lot of young and talented players who were not quite playing up to their potential. He got into ten games with the Triple-A Red Wings while working as a corner outfielder and hit .194 with a double, one home run, and three RBI in 39 plate appearances. But when the Twins made the decision to option two outfielders off of their Major League roster (Byron Buxton and Max Kepler), Murphy was not heading back to the Majors. Minnesota instead activated utility option Danny Santana from the disabled list and recalled pitcher Alex Meyer.
“His numbers weren’t pretty but he took decent at-bats the last couple games,” Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan was quoted in The Pioneer Press story. “He played a decent outfield. He was healthy. He can still play.”
With two young players heading to Rochester and in need of playing time, Murphy’s time on the field was going to dwindle and the pursuit of another attempt to reach the Majors and earn the $1 million portion of his contract for landing on a MLB roster was coming to an end. In advance of his May 1st opt-out in his Twins contract, he asked for his release on Sunday.
“I said, ‘If I never play a major league baseball game again, this is definitely not the way I wanted to go out,” Murphy shared in the Star-Telegram. “It makes me realize how lucky the players are that get to end things on their own terms.”
Murphy hit .273 in over a year and a half with Cleveland, hitting 13 homers and driving in 85 runs. He had signed a two-year, $12 million contract following the 2013 season to join the Indians in a well-publicized story after his five-year-old daughter broke the news of his deal by sharing with her preschool class that her “daddy is going to be an Indian.” His “Good Guy” moniker seemed to catch fire on social media after coming through Cleveland, where his scrappy play and likeable personality won him points with some Tribe fans.
He was traded by the Indians to the Angels in the days preceding the non-waiver trade deadline last season in exchange for minor league shortstop Eric Stamets.
Photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer