David Murphy should be the Red Sox starting left fielder

David MurphyThere used to be nightmares of the Eric Gagne deal.

The Red Sox wanted to upgrade their bullpen in 2007, so they sent David Murphy, Kason Gabbard and Engel Beltre to the Texas Rangers for the reliever. Even though the Sox won the World Series, the deal did not go so well for them.

Murphy moved on to be a dependable fourth outfielder for the Rangers but now, the 10-year big league vet is back where it all started. On February 29, the Red Sox signed him to a minor league contract with a Spring Training invite. He has a March 27 opt-out date and a June 1 opt-out date to ensure he has a chance to play in the majors this season. If he makes the Red Sox big league club, he will have a base $2 million salary. If he opts to report to the PawSox, he will receive a $100,000 bonus to stay in the organization.

A below-average defensive outfielder, the 34-year-old owns a .795 OPS lifetime against right-handed pitching — which has essentially made him a platoon player throughout his entire big league career.

Last year, Murphy hit .283 with 10 home runs in 132 games split between the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Nearly all of (365 of 391) his at-bats came against right-handed pitching.

Murphy, who can play all three outfield positions, has not played center field since 2012 and for the most part, he has been a left fielder.

The Red Sox finally went after that left-handed outfield bat, an issue they ignored for much of the offseason. Every one of their four true outfielders (Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Rusney Castillo and Chris Young), hit better against lefties last season.

Castillo’s .566 OPS against righties last year did not inspire confidence — which makes a Murphy-Castillo platoon in left field a viable option. But Farrell said Murphy’s signing has nothing to do with Castillo.

With his numbers being as consistent as they have been in the past, it is tough to imagine why the 2003 Red Sox first round draft pick (17th overall), who spent parts of two seasons with the Sox (2006-2007), was still available this late.

If it comes down to it, Murphy can help out on the mound too. After all, he did it at Fenway once already.

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