Braves Acquire Sean Murphy, Brewers Acquire William Contreras In Three-Team Trade

The Braves have acquired catcher Sean Murphy from the A’s, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN. It’s actually a three-team trade, per Passanwith William Contreras going to the Brewers and Manny Pina to the A’s. Right-handed pitching prospect Freddy Tarnok will be going from Atlanta to Oakland, per Robert Murray of FanSided. The A’s will also get outfielder Esteury Ruiz from Milwaukee, per Murray. Joel Sherman of The New York Post add that Joel Payamps and Justin Yeager will go to the Brewers. Kiley McDaniel of ESPN reports that left-hander Kyle Muller is going to Oakland. It’s not yet known if this is the full deal or if more players are involved.

This move finally brings an end to a trade saga that has been going on for about a year now. After the 2021 season, the A’s leaned hard into a rebuild that saw them trade away Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea and Chris Bassitt before Opening Day, with Frankie Montas getting flipped at the 2022 deadline.

Murphy was widely seen as the next to go for a number of reasons. Firstly, he just crossed three years of MLB service time in 2022 and will now be making higher salaries via arbitration. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected that Murphy will jump to $3.5MM in 2023 with two further bumps before reaching free agency after 2025. Secondly, the A’s received an excellent catching prospect from Atlanta in the Olson deal in Shea Langeliers. He had an excellent season in Triple-A and carried himself well in a 40-game debut in the majors. Given all those factors, it seemed more and more likely that the A’s would hand the job over to Langeliers and trade Murphy for improvements elsewhere on the roster.

By taking this path, the A’s are parting with one of the best catchers in the game. The 28-year-old Murphy has 330 games in the big leagues under his belt thus far and has performed well in just about every facet of the game. He’s hit 46 home runs and has a combined batting line of .236/.326/.429. That production leads to a wRC+ of 116, indicating he’s been 16% above the league average hitter and even further ahead of the average catcher, since they generally come in a bit lower than others. He also took a step forward at the plate in 2022, striking out in just 20.3% of his plate appearances after being above 25% in his career prior to that.

Defensively, Murphy gets rave reviews as well. Since the start of 2020, he’s posted 13 Defensive Runs Saved behind the plate, a number that places him in the top 10 in the league. FanGraphs’ framing metric gives him a 19.5 in that timeframe, the third-highest such tally. Those all-around contributions have allowed him to produce 10 wins above replacement in those three seasons, according to FanGraphs, second among all MLB catchers with only JT Realmuto ahead of him.

More to come.

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