It was a matter of time until the Oakland A’s traded Sean Murphy. That time came on Monday afternoon.
According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the A’s are sending Murphy to the Atlanta Braves. This time, it is part of a there team deal as the Brewers are also involved, with William Contreras reportedly heading to Milwaukee. Another catcher, Manny Pina, is heading to Oakland.
Atlanta Braves make another blockbuster trade to acquire Sean Murphy
This is the second blockbuster trade between the Braves and A’s in as many offseasons. Matt Olson was sent to Atlanta last year for a package of prospects headlined by Shea Langeliers. Ironically, Langeliers’ rise in the prospect world, and strong showing at Triple-A last season, led to Murphy being expendable.
Murphy provides an immediate upgrade for the Braves. He posted a 120 OPS+ with 18 homers and 37 doubles in his 612 plate appearances last season, providing an excellent option in the lineup at the position. He is also a former Gold Glove catcher and has been considered one of the best defensive backstops in the game, dramatically improving the catcher spot from that standpoint.
It made sense that the Braves would need to trade catchers as part of the deal, with Contreras a long term answer in Milwaukee. Pina, however, is a backup who appeared in five games in 2022 due to injury. He is due to receive $4.5 million this year and has a player option for $4 million in 2024, something that A’s may want to avoid paying.
The A’s are also set to acquire a trio of prospects. Esteury Ruiz, Freddy Tarnok, and Kyle Muller are heading to Oakland as well. Ruiz has impressive speed and an ability to play all three outfield positions, as well as second, third, and short. Although he did not impress in his major league debut, Ruiz has the potential to be a sparkplug atop the lineup in a super utility role.
Tarnok also made his major league debut last season, facing three batters while allowing a hit and notching a strikeout. His mid 90s fastball is easily his best pitch, a plus offering that can reach 98 MPH. He also has a slider, a curve, and a changeup, all of which project to be average offerings. However, his spotty control and high effort delivery make it likely that Tarnok will end up in a relief role.
Muller is easily the centerpiece for the A’s. Although he has not had success in the majors, having posted a 5.14 ERA and a 1.367 WHiP over 49 innings, it is easy to look at his stuff and imagine what could be. He has a plus-plus fastball that sits in the mid 90s with plenty of carry, a pair of potential plus offerings in his slider and curve, and has a changeup that he has some feel for. The problem is that his command can come and go, making his arsenal play down as there are times when he is nowhere near the strike zone.
This return has to be viewed as somewhat disappointing. Muller may be the Braves’ top prospect at this point, but he has plenty of risk. Tarnok is likely heading to the bullpen, and there are questions as to whether or not Ruiz can be a regular at the major league level. Once again, the Braves appear to have fleeced the A’s.
Sean Murphy is finally on the move. He is being sent to the Atlanta Braves as part of a three team deal that also involved the Milwaukee Brewers.