In what amounts to a tacit admission that the Indians have no realistic chance of making the playoffs this year, the Tribe front office has sold the contracts of two of its outfielders to teams who expect to still be playing once the calendar turns to October.
On Tuesday evening, the Indians announced that they had traded outfielder David Murphy (left in the photo above) to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in exchange for Double-A shortstop Eric Stamets. Earlier today, the Indians traded outfielder/first baseman Brandon Moss to the St. Louis Cardinals for High Class-A pitching prospect Rob Kaminsky.
The Indians brought up Tyler Holt from AAA Columbus before yesterday’s game to take Murphy’s place on the 25-man roster.
They have not yet announced who will take Moss’s place. Update: Lonnie Chisenhall has been called up from AAA Columbus.
In 84 games, Murphy batted .296 for the Tribe, with five home runs, 12 doubles, and 27 RBI. Moss led the team with 15 home runs, but his batting average over his 94 games with the Tribe was an anemic .217. Moss also led the Indians in strikeouts with 106, which meant he struck out 50% more often than the team’s second-place strikeout victim, Michael Bourn.
Neither Murphy, 33, nor Moss, 31, figured in any long-term plans the Indians had. Murphy’s contract was set to expire after the 2015 season, although the Indians did have a one-year option on him. Moss was arbitration eligible after the season (and likely due a raise), and was set to become a free agent after the 2016 season. Had the Tribe played better this season, it’s possible that the team may have picked up Murphy’s option for 2016. But the Tribe’s lackluster performance over the past two months (a .440 winning percentage since June 1) convinced the front office that 2015 was not going to be our year.
The line on Stamets seems to be that he’s good with the glove, but not so good at staying healthy. Injuries to his finger and his shoulder have kept him on the bench for parts of each of the past two seasons. And with a gent named Francisco Lindor on the varsity, it’s not likely that Stamets will ever become the everyday shortstop for the Indians. But there is always room on a major league roster for a good defensive middle infielder. I wouldn’t rule out seeing Stamets in a Tribe uniform in 2016. With nothing to lose, they might even call him up in September when the rosters expand, just to have a look-see.
The acquisition of Kaminsky seems to be a coup for the Tribe. Writing for CBS Sports, Mike Axisa said that “on paper, this is a heist for the Indians,” pointing out that Kaminsky “seems likely to be a consensus top 100 prospect in 2016.” It’s been said that when you think you have enough pitching, you need to go out and get some more. In trading the erratic, underproducing Moss for the 20-year-old Kaminsky, it appears that the Indians have taken that advice to heart.