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Sean Murphy’s Fallout Trade: The Brave Get the Platform Catcher, While A Keeps Rebuilding


After weeks of eye-catching free agency deals, the commercial market has finally produced its first blockbuster of the winter with the sending of Oakland A. Sean Murphyone of the best catchers in the sport, Atlanta Braves like part of a three-team deal that is also related to Milwaukee Brewery.

It’s no surprise that Murphy was eventually dealt with, but the form of the transaction is hard to see on many fronts.

First, Atlanta didn’t go into this winter looking like a team in dire need of a starting position. They have not one but two key players in the All-Star years — veterans Travis d’Arnaud and 24 years old William Contrast. However, as Murphy’s sweepstakes have heated up over the past few weeks, the Braves have been featured in numerous reports, sparking a bit of league-wide anxiety. What exactly did they do?

With d’Arnaud growing older and questions raised about Contreras’ viability as a full-time catcher, it seems Atlanta has made it a priority to identify Murphy as a big enough upgrade both short and long term so it’s worth uncovering not just Contreras and another worm catcher in Manny Pinabut also three legitimate pitching leads in Kyle Muller, Freddy Tarnok and Royber Salinas.

Regardless of what they’ve given up, I support the general view that Murphy deserves it. Sure there are some old-school Braves fans looking at his 0.236 career average and wondering what all that fuss is about, but he’s become a top 5 catcher of both fWAR and bWAR over the past three seasons in large part thanks to the plus power and stellar defense in the game’s most demanding position. It’s completely understandable if audiences across the country haven’t fully realized how well this guy has performed in the early part of his career, but I have a feeling they won’t take long to figure it out.

Oakland’s revenue doesn’t look impressive on the surface, but it’s in line with the way it approaches its other deals in this dramatic rebuild: instead of betting it all on one lead every Instead, hire a bunch of people (especially pitchers) and hope some of them become useful contributors to the big league.

Left-handed Muller and right-handed Tarnok have both played well in this year’s Triple-A and should be ready to start experiencing real MLB in 2023. Esteury Ruiz comes with stellar speed (85 steals in the 2022 Minor) and interesting defensive versatility but there are serious concerns about how much power he can achieve at the highest level. Salinas is a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher who has hit 175 shots in 109 innings in A-ball. He’s yet to jump onto any of the top 100 lists, but a strong debut in Double-A could very well put him on the national radar’s prospect list.

In general, person A chooses quantity over quality, and a large collection of good leads is rarely publicly received as a trade-off for a promising gem with future superstars. written all over him. It’s not pretty, but we won’t have to wait long to see how big leagues like Muller, Tarnok and Ruiz turn out.

As for the Brewers snaking their way into the deal by sending Ruiz to Oakland as part of their prospecting scheme? Simply put: I take my hat off. Milwaukee was rumored to be joining Murphy earlier in the season and is clearly pursuing an upgrade with free-hit Omar Narvaez. Contrast comes with far more defensive question marks than Gold Glover Murphy, but if the goal is to hit a long-term catch resolution this winter, mission accomplished!

Not only is Contreras under contract for another five seasons with Murphy’s three, but early comebacks suggest he can become Murphy’s killer, if not better. That it only costs Ruiz, a bad prospect with important questions about his offensive potential and who the Brewers just bought in July for Josh Hader, is a huge win for this front office. If they can develop Contreras into a reliable starting pick behind the plate, he will become a staple in the Brewers’ roster for years to come. More importantly, he added a real boost to the roster in the short term as Milwaukee struggled to catch up with the Cardinals at NL Central, who coincidentally signed a long-term contract with his brother, Willson last week. It looks like their joint appearance at their All-Star Game this past summer was just an appetizer for what will be a great showdown to watch over the next half-decade in NL Central.

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Jordan Shusterman is half of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball writer for FOX Sports. He followed baseball his entire adult life, most notably for MLB.com, DAZN and Ringer. He’s a Mariners fan living in the Eastern Time Zone, which means he loves the first pitch at 10pm. You can follow him on Twitter @j_shusterman_.


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