Matt Murton, who went from being a part-timer and journeyman in America to being a star in Japan, has decided to stay with the Hanshin Tigers for another season.
There had been some speculation that Murton might want to give MLB another try at age 32, but instead he’ll get $3.5 million to remain in Japan for 2014 after hitting .314 with an .845 OPS in 143 games this year. Murton is a career .312 hitter in four Japanese seasons and broke Ichiro Suzuki’s single-season hits record in 2010.
In the American big leagues Murton hit .286 with a .788 OPS in 346 games for the Cubs, Rockies, and A’s, but never quite grabbed hold of a full-time job after 2006.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.