Murphy refused his outright assignment to the minors and elected free agency Oct. 30, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Murphy was outrighted to the minors at the end of October following a disappointing 2020 season. The 29-year-old appeared in 25 games for the Pirates last year, posting a .433 OPS with two RBI and 28 strikeouts. He's made brief major-league appearances in each of the last eight seasons, but he's failed to generate much production and will likely serve as depth if he finds a new organization.
Murphy cleared waivers Friday and was outrighted to the minors, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Murphy served as the Pirates' backup backstop during the shortened season but did very little with his limited playing time, hitting .172/.226/.207 in 25 games. He's now failed to clear the Mendoza line in four of the last five campaigns and in five of his eight seasons in total, rendering him perhaps a better fit as minor-league depth than in a backup role.
Murphy will start at catcher and will bat ninth Monday in the first game of the Pirates' doubleheader with the Reds. The clear No. 2 catcher on the roster behind Jacob Stallings, Murphy will be picking up his 15th start in the Pirates' 45th game of the season. The spotty playing time probably hasn't helped Murphy's efforts to settle into a groove at the plate, as he enters the twin bill with an ugly .186/.239/.233 slash line across 47 plate appearances on the campaign.
Murphy will return to a bench role for Wednesday's game against the White Sox. Murphy caught for Steven Brault in Tuesday's 4-0 series-opening loss, going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts as Chicago's Lucas Giolito submitted MLB's first no-hitter of 2020. He'll retreat to the bench in favor of Jacob Stallings, who is seemingly locked in as the Pirates' clear No. 1 backstop. Stallings will be making his eighth start in 10 games Wednesday.
Murphy will start behind the plate and bat ninth against St. Louis on Saturday. He's getting the nod after starter Jacob Stallings caught Friday's night game. Murphy could make two or three weekly starts if manager Derek Shelton decides to rest Stallings on a regular basis. Murphy posted an .840 OPS in the PCL in 2019, but he's slashed just .219/.265/.357 in 622 at-bats at the major-league level.
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