The Braves acquired catcher Sean Murphy of the A’s, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan. It’s basically a three-team trade, per Passanof William Contraras to the Brewers and Manny Pina to the A’s. Right-handed pitching prospect Freddy Tarnok goes from Atlanta to Oakland, per Robert Murray from FanSided. The A’s also get an outfielder Esteury Ruiz from Milwaukee, op Murray. Joel Sherman of The New York Post adds that Joel Payamps and Justin Yeager goes to the Brewers. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel says the left-hander Kyle Muller goes to Oakland. It is not yet known if this is the full deal or if more players are involved.
This move finally ends a trading saga that has been going on for about a year now. After the 2021 season, the A’s leaned hard for a rebuild that forced them to trade Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manea and Chris Bassett for Opening Day, with Frankie Montas be reversed by the 2022 deadline.
Murphy was widely seen as next for a number of reasons. First, he just passed three years of MLB service in 2022 and will now earn higher salaries through arbitration. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz predicted Murphy will jump to $3.5 million in 2023 with two more bumps before hitting free agency after 2025. Second, the A’s got an excellent catching prospect from Atlanta in the Olson deal Shea Langeliers. He had an excellent season in Triple-A and performed well in a 40-game debut in the majors. Given all those factors, it seemed increasingly likely that the A’s would hand over the job to Langeliers and trade Murphy for improvements elsewhere on the roster.
By following this path, the A’s say goodbye to one of the best catchers in the game. The 28-year-old Murphy has 330 appearances to his credit in the major leagues to date and has performed well in just about every facet of the game. He hit 46 home runs and has a combined batting line of .236/.326/.429. That production leads to a wRC+ of 116, indicating that he ranks 16% above the average hitter in the league and even beyond the average catcher as they generally rank slightly lower than others. He also took a step forward at the plate in 2022, striking out in just 20.3% of his at bats, having hit over 25% in his career before that.
Defensively, Murphy is also receiving critical acclaim. Since the start of 2020, he has posted 13 Defensive Runs Saved behind the plate, a number that places him in the top 10 in the league. FanGraphs’ framing stat gives him a 19.5 in that time frame, the third-highest mark. Those all-around contributions have allowed him to rack up 10 wins over replacement in those three seasons, according to FanGraphs, second among all MLB catchers with only JT Realmuto ahead of him.
More to come.