In a bit of stunning news, the Chicago Cubs have reportedly acquired Daniel Murphy from the Nationals this afternoon. According to MLB Trade Rumors he is owed roughly ~$4 million for the remainder of the season, with details yet to be announced how much of his salary the Cubs will take on.
Andruw Monasterio will be heading to the Nationals, along with a PTBNL or cash considerations. Monasterio is a middle infielder at South Bend, and while he’s both young (21) and having a decent season he remains outside the Cubs’ Top 30 Prospects, per MLB.com. He also plays two positions (2B/SS) in which the Cubs have plenty of depth.
It’s a surprise no one else claimed him
There are so many peculiar elements to this deal, and it’s hard to unpack everything in the immediate aftermath. How playoff contending teams like the Diamondbacks didn’t claim Murphy before the Cubs is puzzling. Currently in first in the NL West with a vulnerable starter at the keystone (Ketel Marte is a solid defender with uninspiring offensive numbers), Arizona would have made a lot of sense for Murphy. Somehow, they passed on him.
Other contending teams, particularly the Brewers or Cardinals, could’ve made a waiver claim simply to block the Cubs — if they had any sense the Cubs might be a suitor. And when you look at the reality the Cubs gave up little to buttress their lineup for the postseason, opposing contenders in the NL must be kicking themselves they let a player like Murphy slip to the Cubs.
What does this mean for the Cubs roster?
While there’s yet to be any official corresponding roster move, Murphy’s presence signals that 1) Addison Russell is likely headed to the bench, DL, or AAA, and 2) Kris Bryant‘s health remains an absolute question mark, even for the playoffs.
With the expansion of rosters September 1 this will likely be worked out, but the logjam now in place with Murphy’s addition can’t be ignored. The front office is serious about winning this year, and clearly isn’t afraid to shake up the young, controllable core of position players that they’ve depended upon since the team’s rise to contention in 2015.
While Murphy’s defense has been rated as slightly below average (-1 DRS and -.5 UZR) his bat has remained a threat this season, posting a .300/.341/.442 triple slash. And when you consider the veteran lefty is a notorious Cub killer with a .336/.387/.518 triple slash with 5 home runs and a 141 wRC+ since the All-Star Break, this deal is a steal. It’s a great addition for the playoff stretch, costing the Cubs nothing but prospects they don’t need and taking on additional salary while remaining under the Luxury Tax.
What to expect moving forward
Daniel Murphy is going to start. He’s a veteran with a track record of playoff success, and his left-handed bat should provide a jolt of energy to an offense that has been, at best, anemic of late. Personal feelings aside, Murphy is a brilliant addition to this roster. A free agent to be, he can continue to build his stock for that last big contract (currently he’s 33) while buttressing a Cubs lineup that sorely needs it.
Once again this front office has found a way to add a valuable piece at a position of (surprising) need, sacrificing little to do so. Suddenly that second championship in three years feels a bit more in reach.
Feature Photo Credit–USA Today