As we detailed last week in our profile of Rule 5 draft pick Ben Copeland, the Oakland A's currently have a crowded field of players vying for a spot as an outfielder on the team's 2009 Opening Day roster. That field became one smaller on Wednesday, as Oakland dealt outfielder Matt Murton to the Colorado Rockies for infielder Corey Wimberly. The move also opens a spot on the A's 40-man roster.
Murton was one of four players acquired by the Oakland A's in the Rich Harden/Chad Gaudin trade last July. Murton, a right-handed hitting corner outfielder, had a down 2008 season, hitting only .186 in 28 major league games and .290 but with only two homeruns in 86 minor league games. Murton appeared in nine games for the A's and he hit .100. He finished the year with Triple-A Sacramento, where he hit .277 with a homer in 32 games.
Murton's history would indicate that last year may have been only a blip in the road for the Georgia Tech alum. He is a career .288 major league hitter with 28 homers in 317 major league games, mostly for the Chicago Cubs. Murton had a strong winter league season with the Caracas Leones during which he hit .321 with two homers in 15 games in November and early December. Ironically, Murton will be competing for a spot in left-field in Colorado, the spot vacated by Matt Holliday when he was traded to Oakland earlier this off-season.
Despite Murton's departure, the A's still have a lot of competition in the outfield set for this spring. In addition to Rule 5 pick Ben Copeland, the A's have Travis Buck, Aaron Cunningham, Chris Denorfia, Rajai Davis and Javier Herrera all competing for spots next to starters Matt Holliday, Ryan Sweeney and Jack Cust. Murton is the second outfielder traded off of the A's 40-man roster this week. Richie Robnett was dealt to the Cubs on Monday.
In return for Murton, the A's are receiving infielder Corey Wimberly, who led the Texas League in stolen bases last year with 59. He hit .291 with no homeruns and 28 RBIs for Double-A Tulsa in 2008. Wimberly can play a lot of positions. He saw significant time at second base, shortstop, third base, centerfield and left-field last season. Wimberly will be a non-roster invitee to the A's major league spring training camp, the team announced.
Wimberly was a sixth-round pick of the Colorado Rockies out of Alcorn State in 2005. He is a career .312 hitter with a .378 OBP in four minor league seasons. Wimberly has been one of the minor league's top base stealers over the past few years. He has 181 stolen bases in 235 chances in 354 career games.
He has missed time throughout his career with a variety of ailments, including a hamstring injury in 2006 that cost him two months of the season. He established a career-high in 2008 with 108 games played. It was his second season at the Double-A level.
Wimberly stands at only 5'8'' and has been a table-setter-type hitter throughout his career. He is a switch-hitter and a right-handed thrower.
Wimberly takes the place of Justin Sellers on the A's minor league infield depth chart in the upper levels. Sellers, who was a middle infielder for the A's Double-A squad last season, was dealt along with Robnett to the Chicago Cubs on Monday.
A's Continue To Clean-Up Roster; Deal Murton
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