It’s a nostalgic day at Wrigley Field, as former Cubs outfielder Matt Murton has officially signed a minor league contract to return to the Cubs, MLBTR has learned. A report from Yahoo Japan first reported that an agreement was in place last week.
The now-34-year-old Murton was originally selected by the Red Sox with the No. 32 overall pick in the 2003 draft but was traded from Boston to Chicago in the four-team Nomar Garciaparra blockbuster. Murton made his big league debut with the Cubs in 2005 and went on to spend three-and-a-half seasons as a productive member of the team’s outfield, batting .294/.362/.448 in his time with the Cubs. Murton would eventually be traded to the Athletics (alongside Josh Donaldson) in a trade that netted the Cubs right-handers Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin.
Murton’s big league career after leaving the Cubs was brief; he appeared in just nine games for the A’s before he was included in an offseason trade that sent him to the Rockies, and he saw just 29 games as a member of Colorado’s big league club. Murton did have a big year at the Triple-A level with the Rockies in 2009, though, which seemingly caught the eye of the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. Murton signed on with Hanshin for the 2010 season and crushed Japanese pitching, hitting .349/.395/.499 with 17 homers in his first season overseas. While his initial plan may not have been to embark on such a lengthy stay, Murton would go on to spend a total of six seasons with Hanshin, batting a combined .310/.352/.437 in 3534 plate appearances with the Tigers.
Now back with the Cubs, Murton will look to force his way into an outfield mix that has Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward and Jorge Soler lined up as the starters (from left field to right field) with Chris Coghlan and Matt Szczur also in the mix for bench roles. Ben Zobrist and Arismendy Alcantara, too, are capable of playing the outfield, though Zobrist will be the Cubs’ primary second baseman, and Alcantara is probably bound for Triple-A after struggling there in 2015.