Boston Red Sox outfielder David Murphy has exercised an opt-out clause in his contract, forcing the team to place him on its 40-man roster or release him by Tuesday.
The veteran, who split last season with the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Angels, has had a mostly solid spring training. He hit .281/.294/.375 with three runs batted in, going without a home run in his 32 at-bats. The Red Sox plugged him in mostly as a backup option to their young outfield, which doesn't feature an expected starter above 28 years old.
"I'm interested in winning a World Series," Murphy said, per Scott Lauber of ESPN.com, "and you can't do that in the minor leagues."
Based on his 2015 stats, it's hard to see why a team wouldn't take a chance on Murphy. He hit a solid .283/.318/.421 last season with 10 home runs and 50 runs batted in. FanGraphs' WAR formula had him as basically a replacement-level player, which shouldn't put him in starting contention but is enough to throw him in an outfield platoon somewhere.
Murphy's decision to sign with the Red Sox confirms he's more interested in winning than extended playing time at this point. If Murphy doesn't make it in Boston, though, he's seemingly interested in continuing to play, per Lauber:
I feel like, I don't know, with as crazy as the offseason was and having a pretty decent year last year, I felt like if I took care of business [in spring training] that good things would happen. And as well on the reverse side. If things didn't end up the way that I wanted them to, then that was part of my thinking, like maybe it's time to consider walking away. Because at the age that I am and just where things are, it's not like there's a ceiling to be reached.
Now that he's put the pressure on, the Red Sox have to make a decision. Murphy's performance has largely been on par with his career norm, but his opportunities waned as spring training went on. Odds would be on Boston moving on, but we've seen far stranger things happen.
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