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Matt Murton Returning To Cubs

The redheaded former North Sider has signed a minor-league deal.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

We last saw Matt Murton in a Cubs uniform July 6, 2008, when he went 0-for-3 in a win over the Cardinals in St. Louis.

Two days later he was included as part of the six-player deal that brought Rich Harden to the Cubs from the Athletics.

After 29 games with the Rockies the following year, Murton signed to play in Japan, where he hit .310/.352/.437 in 832 games in six seasons with the Hanshin Tigers. In 2010, his first season there, he had 214 hits. That set a NPB record, which had been held by Ichiro Suzuki.

Be ready to welcome him back to the Cubs in a few weeks, because:

Here's the Japanese media report Phil Rogers is referring to. Google Translate's somewhat fractured translation of the article seems to indicate the signing, a minor-league contract, includes an invitation to major-league spring training. Murton, who is now 34, would certainly be in the mix for a fifth-outfielder spot on the Cubs' 25-man roster.

Murton's old No. 19 is already taken by Kristopher Negron on the Cubs' numerical roster list for spring training, but who knows? Maybe he can take it back, as Negron is also a non-roster invitee.

It should be noted that Murton was originally drafted by Theo Epstein for the Red Sox in 2003, Theo's first year as Boston's GM, so there's a Theo/Boston connection for Murton, who was traded to the Cubs in 2004 in the Nomar Garciaparra deal.

Welcome back, Matt. Good luck in your quest to return to the big leagues.