The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed catcher John Ryan Murphy to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite according to Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic.
The 28-year-old Murphy has played parts of seven seasons in the majors, starting with the New York Yankees in 2013, before moving on to the Minnesota Twins in 2016, the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017-19, and one game for the Atlanta Braves in late September last year.
Murphy hit .175/.246/.413, with a boost in that slugging from four homers in 63 at-bats. His best season was 2015 for the Yankees when he had a .734 OPS in 67 games. He’s a career .219/.265/.357 hitter in 259 games. He’s considered to be above average defensively, though his 28% career caught stealing rate is just slightly below league average.
The Pirates right now have Jacob Stallings and Luke Maile as their only two catchers on the 40-man roster and no prospect in the minors ready for the majors yet, so Murphy has a chance to win a big league spot in Spring Training. The Pirates might not be done signing catchers at this point. All three options they have are better defensive options than true starter material, so there’s room to add more, even if the free agent options are limited.
UPDATE: The Pirates made this signing official and announced that Jake Elmore, who signed last month, also received a non-roster invite. That’s almost standard procedure for anyone with MLB experience, especially if they sign early in the off-season.