The Oakland A’s are going to need to make a decision soon. Shea Langeliers is forcing the issue when it comes to his being promoted to the majors as he has not stopped producing in Triple-A. Meanwhile, the A’s have a Gold Glove caliber catcher in Sean Murphy entrenched in the lineup at the major league level.
Chances are, this means that Murphy will be on the trade block, either at the deadline or in the offseason. It is also fair to wonder what type of haul the A’s would get for their workhorse of a catcher.
The hidden value of Sean Murphy
At first glance, Murphy would not seem to be someone who would fetch a handsome return. He has produced a .201/.271/.369 batting line in his 166 plate appearances entering Tuesday, hitting 11 doubles and four homers. Murphy has plenty of pop in his bat, but his strikeout tendencies limit his ability to contribute.
But Murphy’s greatest value comes from his glove. He has consistently been one of the better catchers when it comes to pitch framing, stealing strikes for his pitchers. The A’s pitching staff, considered a giant question mark heading into the season, had a 3.4 fWAR heading into Monday, a mark that was tied for 15th in the majors. While that may not be great, it is a testament to Murphy’s ability to take a group of questionable arms and work to their strengths.
Murphy has also been able to shut down the opponent’s running game. He has thrown out 38.5% of would-be base stealers this season, the fourth best mark in the American League. Murphy leads AL catchers with four zone runs saved and 276 putouts without making an error thus far.
That is where Murphy’s value truly lies. He can make a pitching staff better with just his presence as he steals strikes and can guide those arms through a lineup. His powerful bat may be somewhat inconsistent, but that could also be due to the sheer amount of playing time that he gets. Another team could end up with their long term answer behind the plate by acquiring him.
The Oakland A’s may have a logjam at catcher in the next few weeks. Sean Murphy could bring back a surprising return if he is on the trade block.