11:17am: Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that Murphy’s contract comes with a $1.15MM base salary in the Majors.
11:08am: Twins director of communications and player relations Dustin Morse has announced the signing, adding that Murphy will be assigned to Triple-A Rochester.
11:01am: The Twins have agreed to a minor league contract with veteran outfielder David Murphy, reports La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (links to Twitter). The 34-year-old Murphy was in camp with the Red Sox on a minor league contract and didn’t make the club. He’s reportedly been waiting for a big league offer and weighing retirement over reporting to the minors, but Neal adds that it sounds like Murphy won’t be in the minors long with the struggling Twins. That means one of Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton or Miguel Sano is on the hot seat in terms of his starting job, per Neal.
Minnesota entered the season with a promising trio of outfielders, but each of Rosario, Buxton and Sano has struggled tremendously this season. Buxton has struck out in half of his plate appearances, whereas Sano is at 43 percent and Rosario has punched out in 36 percent of his trips to the plate. Buxton would seem the most logical choice to get some time in the minors, as he’s the only one of the three that hasn’t experience big league success yet. Were that to play out, Rosario or young Max Kepler could see some time in center field, though Kepler himself is a highly touted but untested prospect.
Clearly, this outcome wasn’t one that the Twins had envisioned entering the season. Minnesota surprised most pundits with an 83-win season that saw the club still alive in the hunt for the AL’s second Wild Card spot right up until the final series of the regular season. However, the Twins have stunningly yet to win a game in 2016 despite a rotation that ranks 10th in the Majors with a 3.38 ERA. Minnesota has allowed four or fewer runs in all but one game this season, but they’ve also yet to score more than three runs in a single contest. The offense has unquestionably been the team’s downfall, and Murphy will be relied upon to give better at-bats than some of the club’s young talent that has struggled so badly to make contact.
Murphy split the 2015 season between the Indians and Angels, batting a combined .283/.318/.421 in 391 plate appearances. Those numbers are more or less commensurate with Murphy’s career .274/.333/.432 batting line, though it should be noted that he’s best paired with a platoon partner, as Murphy’s lifetime OPS against lefties (.655) is dwarfed by his mark against right-handed pitching (.795).