If David Murphy is really indispensable, who is the Cleveland Indians’ new trade chip?


When the Cleveland Indians acquired Brandon Moss from the Oakland Athletics this offseason, many baseball scribes pegged David Murphy as the most likely trade chip for the Tribe. Murphy was very likely going to be the odd man out in a lineup already loaded with both left-handed hitters and outfielders.

But that has since changed.

Much like Ryan Raburn, Murphy has proven he can be extremely effective without being in the lineup every day. He has made for an outstanding platoon with Raburn, hitting .319 (23-for-72) with three home runs and eight RBIs against right-handed pitching this season. He is 3-for-10 in pinch-hit situations, including two home runs and three RBIs.

Put simply, Murphy has been exactly what manager Terry Francona hoped he’d be coming into this season. As Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group writes

"Everyone who looks at the Indians’ roster, sees Murphy, Bourn, Moss and Brantley and comes to the same conclusion – they have to replace one of those left-handed hitters with a right-handed bat. Murphy has always seemed to be the guy most likely to go, but coming off his ho-hum 2014 season the question was, “Who wants him?”"

According to Hoynes, the Tribe might have an entirely different situation on their hands. The question has now gone from “who wants him?” to “can we afford to trade him?”

The Indians have to make a move and get some help. If Murphy is no longer a trade chip, then who could the Tribe really trade off their big league roster?

Sep 18, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Cleveland Indians center fielder Michael Bourn (24) hits as double during the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Bourn

Take a look at the comments. Many fans have been calling for the dismissal of Bourn for the last season-plus – and for good reason. Bourn has not been the same player the Indians landed in free agency back before the 2013 season. Seemingly all of his numbers have taken significant dips since joining the Tribe and, perhaps most discouraging, he has lost the ability to impact the game on the basepaths. He has been more productive as of late, since being removed from the leadoff spot, but he is far from irreplaceable. What value does Bourn have though? That will be the question general manager Chris Antonetti will be forced to answer closer to the Trade Deadline.

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Nick Swisher

It’s been a painful couple years for Nick Swisher back in his home state of Ohio. Joining the club in that promising free agency class just over two seasons ago, Swisher was expected to come in and produce the way he has throughout his major league career. Throughout his career with Oakland, Chicago and New York, Swisher was a consistent 20-home run hitter with the ability to get on base and drive in runs. He hasn’t done any of those things since joining the Indians – partly due to injury, but mostly due to his inconsistency at the plate. Swisher hit just eight home runs in 97 games last season and, following surgery on both knees this season, the veteran switch-hitter has seen his power completely sapped this season. He has yet to hit a home run in 12 games and really has not come close despite driving three doubles into the gaps. Sadly, it’s tough to see any other team acquiring Swisher unless the Indians pay most of his remaining salary and include a promising young prospect in the deal.

Apr 26, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians right fielder Brandon Moss (44) hits an RBI single in the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Moss

Moss has been just about everything the Indians could have reasonably expected early this season. No less and certainly no more. In 34 games with the Tribe, the veteran left-hander has hit .231/.289/.421 with five home runs and eight doubles. He leads the team with 23 RBIs, but he has struck out 37 times already this season. Moss is never going to hit .300 – heck, he probably won’t ever hit .250 – but he gives the Indians a weapon whose ability to put the ball over the fence is far too valuable to give up.

Use the comments section below to tell us who you think the Tribe should have on the trade block – and who you think they can get in return.