The Chicago Cubs embark upon the 2014 season after an off-season that saw the team made little changes to the Major League roster. In 2014, the Cubs will hope for improvement from their position players and pitching staff after a 2013 season that saw the team lose 96 games.
Murphy was a productive offensive player for the Cubs in 2013. Making 163 plate appearances last season with the Cubs, Murphy hit .255/.319/.530 to go along with 12 home runs and 23 RBIs. Beyond Murphy’s slash-line, the veteran had a wOBA last season of .366 to go along with a wRC+ of 130 and a .275 ISO. The only downside to Murphy’s offensive season in 2013 was his high K% of 29.4% and low BB% of only 4.9%
Defensively, Murphy is behind Valbuena. While Valbuena was considered an above average defender at the third base position last season, Murphy was considered to be below average. Murphy possessed an UZR of -3.7 last season while playing third base. Though, Murphy does offer versatility in his ability to play the third base, second base, and left field positions.
The 31-year old Murphy may be a player that the Cubs want to keep around. Murphy is not going to be at the center of the next great Cubs team but he could be the Mark DeRosa of the next great Cubs team. DeRosa gave the Cubs tons of value during the 2008 season as an utility man and Murphy offers that same potential.
There will come a time this season when Murphy and Valbuena are pushed out of the third base position by either Mike Olt, Javier Baez, or Kris Bryant. Once that time comes, Murphy should feel comfortable as a super-utility player for the Cubs.