Pitchers and catchers reported to camp today, officially starting the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers championship season. The Brewers waved goodbye to several of their key bench pieces from last season, losing Rickie Weeks, Mark Reynolds, and Lyle Overbay to free agency. While the Brewers have brought in some bench help via waiver claims of Luis Jimenez and Shane Peterson, many Brewers’ fans hoped that the team would continue to add veteran depth to their stable of potential bench players, and the team has now reportedly added veteran infielder Donnie Murphy to the fold on a minor league deal.
Donnie Murphy made his debut as a 21 year old for the Kansas City Royals in 2004, and has bounced around the league since then. The soon to be 32 year old righty has played all over the diamond in his career, spending the bulk of his time at third base (111 games), second base (86 games), and shortstop (73 games) for Royals, A’s, Marlins, Cubs, and Rangers. He has never been very strong offensively, with his career .212/.279/.395 line across 938 plate appearances good enough for only an OPS+ of 81 over the course of his career. Most of Murphy’s value is derived from his defensive versatility, though he isn’t particularly adept at any of his positions and has a negative career dWAR.
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Murphy’s name should be mildly familiar to Brewers fans, as Murphy enjoyed his best season in 2013 as a member of the Chicago Cubs. That year, he posted a .255/.319/.530 line with 11 home runs ins 163 plate appearances, though his home run to fly ball ratio of 24.4% that season was nearly double his career 13.3% mark. Still, Murphy’s .849 OPS was 29% above league average, and he was worth a career high 1.0 WAR in a backup role. Murphy struggled to a .196/.268/.330 line in 128 plate appearances for the Rangers last season.
It’s unlikely that the Brewers are counting on a significant contribution from Murphy this season, as his deal doesn’t include an invitation to big league camp. Still, he is a solid depth player to have in the organization. Murphy has posted a strong line of .266/.334/.502 line in 1182 AAA plate appearances, slugging 55 home runs among his 142 extra base hits. The Brewers will now likely open the season with Murphy, Elian Herrera, Luis Sardinas, and Jason Rogers as options in AAA Colorado Springs should the team need to bring up a reserve player.