The Red Sox have outfield questions, and they won't know the answers to them until the season is already well underway. They have needed to address their depth because of this, and while signing Chris Young was a start, it couldn't be all they did, either. Now, it no longer is, as the Sox are reportedly set to sign David Murphy to a minor-league deal, which could very well add to their minor-league depth and keep Bryce Brentz from being relied upon in an emergency. If the Red Sox have to pull the trigger on Brentz, something has probably gone very wrong.
This won't be Murphy's first time with the Sox, as he was drafted 17th overall in the 2003 draft by Boston. Murphy had a decent run as prospect, and then became a useful major-league player after the Sox dealt him to the Rangers in 2007 as part of the Eric Gagne deal. Now, eight years and three teams later, he's back where he started.
Murphy played in 132 games in 2015 for the Indians and Angels, batting .283/.318/.421. That was good for a 101 OPS+, so Murphy's bat is just about average, but the left-handed batter has far more success in his career against righties that make him a potentially more significant acquisition than his minor-league deal suggests. Should one of Rusney Castillo or Jackie Bradley Jr. fail to maintain a hold on their position, or if someone were to get injured in the outfield, Young and Murphy could combine for quite the platoon.
Young is a lefty masher who can field, and Murphy could handle the bulk of the plate appearances against righties. They wouldn't put up star-level production or anything like that, but they have a relatively high floor and would keep the Sox from having to keep waiting and waiting for one of Castillo or Bradley to produce. They would also keep the Sox from having to make some kind of desperation move to replace an outfield, while also making sure Young stays in the role he's best-suited for: a bat to face lefties, be they starters or relievers.
Of course, Murphy would need to stick with the Sox past the opt-out period at the end of spring training -- as a major-league player, Murphy has the right to opt-out of his deal if he's not on the Opening Day roster. He can also stick around for a $100,000 bonus and go to Triple-A until the Sox need him, then choose to opt-out on June 1 should the Sox still have him there, so it's not a guarantee he bails at the first opportunity, either. If he does make the big-league roster, then his major-league salary is for $2 million, according to Alex Speier.
He waited this long to find work already, so the 33-year-old Murphy might be fine with this situation, in an organization he has a history with. The Sox hope that's the case, as they have need of this depth.