David Murphy could cash in with a big year

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- In a world where Angel Pagan signs for four years and $40 million with San Francisco and Shane Victorino lands a three-year, $39 million deal with Boston, Texas outfielder David Murphy has a chance to do very well in free agency next winter. But he is both realistic and candid about his place in the market.

Murphy, 31, is trending in the right direction after six major league seasons. He ranked 10th in the American League with a .304 batting average last year, and established career highs with 65 runs, 29 doubles and a .380 on-base percentage. Murphy recorded a higher slugging percentage (.479) than Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, Adrian Gonzalez, Adam Dunn and teammate Nelson Cruz, among others.

Although Murphy's career pedigree probably puts him behind Curtis Granderson, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Cruz and Hunter Pence in next winter's free-agent outfield pecking order, he appears to settle nicely in the next tier of outfielders with Corey Hart, Carlos Gomez, Michael Morse and 37-year-old Carlos Beltran.

Murphy has the same agent, Michael Moye, who negotiated Josh Hamilton's $125 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels in December. After watching the frenzy surrounding Hamilton last summer in Arlington, Murphy is looking forward to something a lot more orderly and restrained.

"There's no point in blowing it up to be bigger than it really is," Murphy said. "It's not like I'm a $100 million player and I'm going to be getting that type of attention. I have no idea how many teams would be interested. I have no idea what type of deal I would get. But there's no reason in thinking or worrying about that right now. I love being here and I want to win a championship with this team. There's no reason to focus on anything else other than 2013.

"There’s Josh Hamilton and there's me. I'm not going to get a $125 million contract. I'm not going to be the horse on a team. I can contribute in some different ways. But I guess I'm more of a complementary player."

If anything could put a drag on Murphy's market, it's his home-road splits and the perception that he's a platoon player. But those perceptions aren't necessarily slam dunks. Murphy logged a respectable .803 OPS on the road last year compared to .917 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He also hit .347 (26-for-75) against left-handed pitching, although those 26 hits failed to include a home run.

From a personal standpoint, Murphy would naturally prefer to have things work out with the Rangers. He was born in Houston and played college ball at Baylor in Waco, Texas. But he knows his future will hinge in large part on the Rangers' finances and long-range plan and his ability to stay healthy and productive this season.

"It makes a lot of sense for me to be here," Murphy said. "I was born and raised in Texas. I went to college in Texas, and I make Dallas-Fort Worth my home. It makes perfect sense for me to be here for a long time. That being said, I just want the best possible opportunity for my family and my career."