While Daniel Murphy was largely viewed as a rental when the Cubs acquired him, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein hasn’t closed the door on retaining the veteran infielder, writes MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. “I wouldn’t rule anything out,” said Epstein. “He did a lot to right our offense right after he got here and contribute while being asked to play a bigger role than we envisioned when we got him because of injuries and because of a lack of performance offensively and because of the schedule.” Murphy stumbled out of the gates in 2018 upon returning to the from offseason knee surgery, but he hit .322/.358/.502 from July through season’s end — including a .297/.329/.471 slash after the Nats traded him to the Cubs. Addison Russell’s suspension has clouded the Cubs’ middle-infield picture, though Murphy’s defense at second base has graded out terribly over the past two seasons, which the Cubs will have to consider.
It seems plausible that some clubs will prefer Murphy as a first baseman rather than a second baseman, though the Cubs have Anthony Rizzo locked in at first, so they’d have to be convinced he can play second base on a fairly regular basis.
Here’s more from the division …
- New Reds skipper David Bell discussed his approach to the position, as Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. He acknowledges being relatively new to the application of analytics to the field, but says he has “gone through a process the last five years of asking a lot of questions, understanding the information, understanding how to utilize it and how to factor it into all decisions.” That experience will surely help Bell in his current role, in which he says he’ll be open to incorporating all manner of information. Indeed, he indicated that he finds it “a very exciting time in baseball” with whole new approaches to deploying rosters percolating around the game.
- The Brewers undeniably had a successful 2018 campaign, but it occurred despite of the struggles of righty Chase Anderson, who inked a short-term extension at the end of the prior season. As Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports, Anderson wrapped up the current year saying he has plans to get back on track for 2019. GM David Stearns, meanwhile, says the organization expects the same. Anderson, who’ll soon turn 31, did finish with a solid 3.93 ERA in 158 innings. But ERA estimators including FIP (5.22), xFIP (4.79), and SIERA (4.68) were not impressed, and Anderson failed to sustain the slight but notable velocity bump from the season prior.