December 11, 2023

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Trade Shaun Murphy: Braves land catcher from the A’s in a three-team deal; Brewers get William Contreras

Trade Shaun Murphy: Braves land catcher from the A's in a three-team deal;  Brewers get William Contreras

The Atlanta Braves Catcher Shaun Murphy got it from Oakland Athletics Monday as part of the three-way trade that also sent All-Star William Contreras to the Milwaukee Brewers. In total, nine players exchanged hands, and five of them headed to Auckland.

Here is the full trade, As reported by ESPN’s Jeff Bassan:

  • Braves get: Sean Murphy
  • Brewers get: C William Contreras, RHP Joel Payamps, and LHP Justin Yeager
  • A’s get: OF Esteury Ruiz, LHP Kyle Muller, RHP Freddy Tarnok, C Manny Piña, RHP Royber Salinas

Murphy, 28, is one of the best catchers in baseball thanks to an above-average stick and a good glove. Since 2020, he has compiled a .235/.326/.422 slant streak (113 OPS+) while averaging 14 home runs and providing top-notch defense. To wit, Murphy ranked 86 percent in framing runs last season, according to Statcast data. It’s worth wondering if there’s some additional offensive upside to unlock here as well, seeing as how he set a new career high at full speed out last season, ranking at 94 percent.

Regardless of whether or not Murphy improves further, he won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2025 season, making him little more than a short-term lease or shift. He is expected to earn about $3.5 million next season in what is considered his first year of arbitration eligibility, According to estimates found at MLB Trade Rumors.

Of course, Murphy’s availability didn’t come as a surprise. The Athletics have been in a complete demolition process since the owner-mandated lockdown was lifted in March. They traded Matt Olson (also with the Braves), Matt Chapman, Chris Bassett, Frankie Montas, and Sean Mania during that time. Murphy’s departure seemed even more certain after the Athletics acquired Shea Langeliers as part of the aforementioned Olson trade. He should be able to slip into the starting lineup.

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With Murphy now off the market, free agent Christian Vasquez remains available after that Wilson Contreras (yes, William’s brother) went on to the Cardinals on a five-year deal.

Barring another trade, current regular Travis D’Arnoux will likely shift to a backup role behind Murphy while possibly also seeing time in DH. Of course, a subsequent deal involving Dar Arnaud could be the likely path for Atlanta.

On the other hand, Contreras, who will soon be 25, will be coming off the 2022 season slapping . 278/. 354/. 506 with 20 home runs in 97 games. Contreras, who is not slated for free agency until after the 2027 season, has a job OPS+ of 120 across parts of three MLB seasons. He’s supplying Milwaukee with a much-needed middleweight batter. Meanwhile, Payamps, and Yeager, will give brewers more depth.

From an A’s perspective, the two top pieces are Ruiz and Muller. The former is a fast driver and performs well in the minors but does not hit the ball hard. Mueller, for his part, has big stuff but he’s struggled to harness it, walking more than five-for-nine in his career. (To his credit, he lowered that average to 2.7 per nine last season.) Peña, 35, has a career OPS+ of 90, and during his nine-year career in the majors, he averaged 16 tackles per 62 games played. Tarnok is potentially a strong sedative, although the A’s might give it a head start. Salinas is a young right-hander who seems likely to end up on the playing field as well.