Murphy, another sub-.200 hitter, to fight for backup catcher job

The Pirates added another glove-first catcher into the mix Friday, signing seven year veteran John Ryan Murphy to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Murphy, 28, hit .175/.246/.413 with four home runs and 7 RBI in 26 games in the majors last year, almost all of which were with the Diamondbacks. While Murphy has always had a little pop in his bat, he also has been plagued with a low batting average and on-base percentage throughout his career.

Defensively, Murphy is regarded as a good pitch framer and blocker. In 2018, his last full season in the majors, Murphy saved 9.3 runs with his framing skills, an impressive total since he got significantly less playing time than most of the people ahead of him.

In 2018, Murphy hit nine home runs, had a .619 OPS and finished with 0.9 fWAR over 223 plate appearances, playing part-time with the Diamondbacks.

In his career, he has a .219/.265/.357 slash line with 18 home runs, 59 RBI and 1.9 fWAR.

At the moment, Murphy's main competition for a major league job will be Luke Maile, who signed a major league contract with the Pirates in December. Maile is in a similar boat as Murphy: He played well in a limited role in 2018 but then batted well below the Mendoza line in 2019, finishing with a .151 average. The two will vie for the backup job to Jacob Stallings, who himself will be getting serious playing time for the first time in his big league career. All three catchers are good fielders, but light hitters.

The Pirates also confirmed an earlier report by DKPittsburghSports.com that Jake Elmore had signed a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. The club will announce the full list of non-roster invitees at a later date.

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