MLB Rumors

Guardians Showing Continued Interest In Sean Murphy

Guardians Showing Continued Interest In Sean Murphy

The Guardians are among the teams in discussions with the A’s about Sean Murphy, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com (on Twitter). The backstop is one of the more frequent trade targets of the offseason, and Morosi suggests Oakland could complete a deal by the end of the Winter Meetings next week.

Murphy is of interest to virtually every team seeking catching help. He has been a quality hitter throughout his three-plus seasons in the big leagues, showing solid power and plate discipline with roughly average bat-to-ball skills. Murphy tallied a career-high 612 plate appearances this past season, hitting .250/.332/.426 with 18 home runs and a personal-low 20.3% strikeout rate.

While that may not be an eye-popping slash line at first glance, it marked well above-average production once one accounts for the depressed offensive environment around the game and Oakland’s pitcher-friendly home ballpark. By measure of wRC+, Murphy was 22 percentage points better than the average batter. Those numbers look even better when comparing Murphy to his peers behind the plate. Catchers overall mustered a putrid .228/.295/.368 line in 2022. Murphy ranked seventh at the position (among those with 300+ plate appearances) in on-base percentage and finished tenth in slugging.

In addition to that quality performance at the dish, the Wright State product is regarded as an excellent defensive backstop. Statcast consistently pegs him as an above-average pitch framer. The possibility for an electronic strike zone in 2024 or beyond could take pitch framing out of the sport, but Murphy also possesses an elite arm. He cut down 31.1% of attempted basestealers, well above the 25% league mark. Statcast credited him with a 1.89 second pop time (average time to throw to second base), the fourth-best mark among 72 catchers with 10+ throws. He was only charged with two passed balls despite playing more than 1000 innings behind the dish, a workload that trailed only that of J.T. Realmuto.

Murphy’s well-rounded game makes him one of the sport’s better catchers, and his trade appeal is only enhanced by his affordability. He’s eligible for arbitration for three more seasons, and MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects him for a $3.5MM salary in 2023. The 28-year-old will earn successive boosts over the next couple years, but his arbitration salaries will remain well below his open market value if he continues to perform at his recent level.

That window of affordable control means the…

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