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Angels have yet to decide on Murphy's option

Luxury tax considerations could keep club from re-signing outfielder

SEATTLE -- After they decide on a general manager and before the start of free agency, the Angels will have an interesting decision on their hands: David Murphy's club option for 2016.

In a vacuum, it's almost a no-brainer. The Angels have long searched for a productive left-handed hitter to match up against righties, Murphy has played relatively well since coming over from the Indians in late July and his option is worth a reasonable $7 million.

But the Angels' financial situation, coupled with the overall star power in this year's free-agent class, makes it far from a lock.

The Angels have eight players accounting for nearly $130 million toward next season's $189 million luxury-tax threshold (Albert Pujols, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Mike Trout, Huston Street, Erick Aybar, Joe Smith and, yes, Josh Hamilton). That doesn't include sizeable arbitration bumps for Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago and Kole Calhoun, or the $20 million that's usually allocated for bonuses, benefits and players with zero to three years of service time.

Unless Angels owner Arte Moreno decides to blow past the luxury tax -- he hasn't in the past -- that doesn't leave a lot of room for a free-agent class crop that includes the likes of David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Johnny Cueto, Ben Zobrist and (likely) Zack Greinke.

"I would love to be here," Murphy said, "but I'm not going to stress about it. I know what's supposed to happen will happen. I have no control over it. All I control is going out there and playing the best that I possibly can."

Murphy sports a .284/323/428 slash line for the season and had batted .263/282/412 since joining the Angels. He's been good enough that Angels manager Mike Scioscia inserted him in the leadoff spot against Felix Hernandez on Tuesday, a move that made Trout the No. 3 hitter once again and one Scioscia said "could continue beyond" Tuesday's game.

Murphy went 1-for-4 with a three-run home run in Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Mariners.

Murphy, 34 in October, was initially brought in to platoon with C.J. Cron at designated hitter, but Cron's hot streak has pushed Murphy to left field, a position he has handled reasonably well.

Next year, the Angels could opt to sign a free-agent left fielder and bring Murphy back as a part-time DH and a lefty bat off the bench. But they could also have holes to fill at third and second base, and they could opt to sign one of the frontline starters who will become available.

The Angels must decide on Murphy's option within the five-day, exclusive negotiating window that follows the World Series. And it'll come down to whether they want to spend some of their presumably limited resources on Murphy so early in the offseason.

Murphy would be happy if his option got picked up, but it would also mean he hits the open market a year older.

"At this point, I don't care," Murphy said of delaying free agency. "I'm at the point in my career where I just want to win. I don't care about free agency; I don't care about contracts and money. I'm fortunate to have gotten where I've gotten in my career, have made the money that I've made. Hopefully I'm going to continue going on playing until somebody tells me that I can't anymore. But I don't really look at the rest of my career in terms of contracts or money. I want to win. I've been to two World Series, I've lost them both."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast.
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