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Cubs to acquire Daniel Murphy from Nationals

Chicago will look to use the infielder to jumpstart their struggling offense.

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

The Chicago Cubs have acquired infielder Daniel Murphy from the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, The Athletic’s Robert Murray first reported. The Cubs won the waiver claim on Murphy in advance of making today’s trade, and in exchange for Murphy, the Nationals received infield prospect Andruw Monasterio alongside a player to be named later or cash.

For Washington, the trade of Murphy is the symbolic white flag for their season. After standing pat at the non-waiver trade deadline, the Nationals were unable to make up any ground in the division or Wild Card races. In August, the team is 9-10, as they currently sit 7 12 games behind the NL East-leading Braves and 6 12 games behind the Rockies, Phillies and Cardinals, who are currently in a three-way tie for the second Wild Card. It was time to call the figurative punt on the season for the team.

That left the team with few options, as their leverage was significantly hurt by the waiver trade process. Ultimately, they had no choice and shipped Murphy off to Chicago today.

For the Cubs, Murphy is a no-risk pickup that could provide huge benefits down the stretch. He began the season on the disabled list and did not debut until June 12th. It took a couple of weeks for him to regain his old form, but in 153 plate appearances since July 1st, Murphy is slashing .336/.379/.514 with six home runs and 23 RBIs, good for a 136 wRC+.

On the season, Murphy is sporting a .300/.341/.442 line with six homers and 29 RBIs. He’s produced 0.1 fWAR over his 205 total plate appearances. The free-agent-to-be is in the final year of his three-year, $37.5 million contract that he signed with Washington prior to the 2016 season.

The Cubs’ offense has been scuffling as of late. Over the past 30 days, Cubs hitters have an 84 wRC+, third-worst in the National League and fourth-worst in baseball overall. This was epitomized perfectly in the Cubs’ last series in Pittsburgh, in which they scored just a single run in four consecutive games.

Murphy might not be the complete solution to the Cubs’ woes, but he certainly won’t hurt. With Kris Bryant currently on the disabled list, Chicago could slide MVP-candidate Javier Báez over to third base and insert Murphy nicely at second. Murphy does not have significant defensive flexibility, as he has not logged significant innings at third since 2015. As he’s aged, he’s been mostly stationary at second and first.

Murphy is perhaps most famous for his incredible 2015 postseason in which he homered seven times in nine games for the New York Mets, helping to propel them to the National League pennant. He has 24 games of postseason experience and has slashed .323/.407/.613 over 108 plate appearances. Even if you exclude the 2015 postseason and consider it an “outlier,” Murphy has slashed .314/.432/.429 in ten playoff games with the Nationals.

At the end of the day, with the Nationals handcuffed to the waiver system, the Cubs acquired Murphy for almost nothing. Monasterio is a 21-year-old infielder playing with High-A Myrtle Beach, where he has slashed .263/.359/.336 over 436 plate appearances. He was not included among the Cubs’ top 30 prospects.

Devan Fink is a Featured Writer for Beyond The Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DevanFink.