What will the A’s do with Sean Murphy?

A lot is still up in the air right now in Oakland. An inevitable city move, deciding what to do with key bullpen pieces and how to spend an estimated $50 million in payroll for 2023. Of these questions marks: what the A’s will do with Sean Murphy?

Murphy and long-time trade rumors

As Oakland began unloading their star players – from Matt Chapman to Frankie Montas – Sean Murphy has been no stranger to trade rumors.

Murphy finished the 2022 season with a .250 average, .758 OPS and a .332 OBP. For the last place A’s, this wasn’t too shabby. The 6’3″ catcher led the AL in defensive games as catcher at 116 and won the 2021 Gold Glove. And it was recently announced that he is a 2022 Silver Slugger Finalist.

Unfortunately, he also led the AL with 8 errors, tied with Oriole’s rookie Adley Rutschman and the Astros’ Christian Vazquez. Despite the errors, he made a strong showing during the A’s less than mediocre 2022 season.

Catching depth for Oakland

The A’s have catching depth, starting with Shea Langeliers who was called up in the middle of August. He played 40 games in 2022, with 17 of those games at catcher, and finish the season with a WAR of 1.

Oakland may also see two top prospects called up by 2025: Tyler Soderstrom, who can go between 1B and catcher, and Daniel Susac. With these catchers on deck, there may be wiggle room to trade Murphy. And if Oakland is looking for a way to get extra cash for next season, this may be the answer.

What can a trade do for A’s payroll?

The A’s currently have six arbitration eligible players on their hands – including Murphy, Paul Blackburn, Tony Kemp to name a few – projected to earn about $15 million altogether. Murphy’s estimated cost sits at about $3.5 million, based off of these projections. If they unload Murphy knowing they have catching depth, they could fill other more desperate gaps.

But, the downside would be the loss of another key player in this seemingly never-ending rebuild. Murphy is a veteran presence and it’s worth asking whether this may be a mistake, especially if we have to wait a few years for the touted prospects to come up.

Side note: if they get rid of Murphy, maybe the A’s can afford to keep this guy around.