Murphy, who was claimed by the Texas Rangers, had 163 plate appearances last season for the Cubs, hitting 11 home runs and driving in 23 runs on the year. His .255 batting average and .319 on-base percentage were decent, but obviously not anything worth writing home about for the veteran.
Those moves by themselves aren’t exactly significant as the Cubs do some final housecleaning before their 25-man roster has to be finalized, but both moves could have big implications for the team’s third base position. With Murphy out of the picture, it would appear that infielder Mike Olt could be primed to join the Cubs on Opening Day, and he may even get to start ahead of incumbent Luis Valbuena.
Olt, who has been hitting in the clean-up spot for the Cubs at times during spring training, has seemingly fully recovered from the eye ailments that threatened to derail his career. He was acquired by the Cubs in the July 2013 trade that sent Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers, and Olt joined CJ Edwards as the key pieces that the Cubs got back in return.
Olt is hitting .277 in 47 at-bats for the Cubs in Cactus League play, and has slugged five home runs so far on the spring. His 14 strikeouts trail only Junior Lake (16) and Javier Baez (15), but his prodigious power and solid defensive skills have really stood out to the Cubs’ brass.
The Cubs open the season on Monday when they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Jeff Samardzija will get the ball in that game.