SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- I've been joking around Cubs Park that the next word I wanted to hear after "Donnie Murphy" was "released."
Well, I sort of got my wish this morning:
MlLB source -Infielder Donnie Murphy has been claimed for the waiver fee from the Chicago Cubs .— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) March 26, 2014
Murphy had two unbelievable weeks with the Cubs last August, then reverted to his .215-hitting career form. At 31, he really didn't have a spot on this team. His departure from the 40-man roster likely makes room for Emilio Bonifacio, who has had a good spring and who will probably be starting... somewhere.
Scout source tells me Cub Catcher George Kottaras has cleared outright waivers and has been put on release waivers .— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) March 26, 2014
This makes the signing of Kottaras during the offseason a complete waste of time (and possibly money; I'm not 100 percent sure of what portion of Kottaras' $1 million deal the Cubs now have to pay). Since management appears to like having a lefthanded-hitting backup catcher, it would appear that the job will belong to John Baker.
There will likely be two more 40-man spots opening up when Kyuji Fujikawa and James McDonald are placed on the 60-day disabled list (that hasn't been officially announced yet, but I expect it to be). Whether those spots remain open or whether they're taken (presumably by Ryan Kalish and Ryan Roberts) is still to be determined.
The trade of Murphy also likely means that Mike Olt will be the Opening Day third baseman, which puts Luis Valbuena in a utility role, something he's far better suited for.
These moves leave 32 players in camp, including Fujikawa, McDonald and Jake Arrieta, who is likely going to start the season on the 15-day DL.