The Marlins may be satisfied with their current catching tandem of Jacob Stallings and Nick Fortes. Stallings was vital to Sandy Alcantara’s 2022 Cy Young campaign and Pablo López’s success. Fortes provided an offensive spark and improved on defense, bringing the best out of less experienced arms like Braxton Garrett, Jesús Luzardo and Edward Cabrera. It’s possible for both players to perform even better next season.
Although I personally am not worried about the catching situation, Miami has an opportunity to add a catcher who provides good offense and premier defense. The Oakland Athletics seem ready to trade Sean Murphy...for the right price. The 28-year-old still has years of control, has won a Gold Glove and even found himself on one writer’s 2022 AL MVP ballot. With Willson Contreras now off the market, Murphy is clearly the best catcher still available this offseason.
What would be the pros and cons for the Marlins in trading for Murphy?
Murphy is a young and controllable catcher who has already shown that he can provide value in many ways. Murphy’s Statcast percentiles as seen on Baseball Savant are extremely impressive. Aside from a low Sprint Speed, he does not have any major weaknesses.
In four seasons with the A’s, Murphy has a .236/.326/.429 slash line, which is far above the average MLB catcher. That is despite being shifted more than most right-handed batters, including 34.9% of the time last season. His career batting average on balls in play is only .277. The new shift restrictions coming into play in 2023 should benefit him.
Murphy was able to hit 18 homers in the 2022 season, which would have led the Marlins.
Looking at his defense, he was in the 86th percentile in pitch framing and won the AL Gold Glove in 2021. Compared to Stallings, Murphy is even better at controlling the running game.
During the recent Winter Meetings, the Braves reportedly came close to trading for Murphy. If the Marlins got him instead, that would be blocking him from going to a division rival.
The Marlins have bigger issues on the field aside from the catching position (most obviously center field). Stallings and Fortes are both projected by Steamer to have solid seasons in 2023, combining for about three wins above replacement. Whatever talent needed to send to Oakland to acquire Murphy would leave them with less trade chips to use in other deals.
Sandy Alcantara made a leap from good innings-eater to Cy Young winner. Stallings caught every single pitch he threw last season and deserves at least a tiny bit of the credit. What if Murphy doesn’t develop the same kind of chemistry with the Marlins ace?
Murphy is entering his first year of arbitration eligibility, projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $3.5 million. That would be more than the Marlins have paid for any catcher since J.T. Realmuto and take away from what they can spend to address other roster needs.
Miami already has some organizational depth at catcher. Paul McIntosh and Austin Allen (minor league free agent signing) could be close to receiving call-ups—they have both hit very well in the upper minors.
Should the Marlins trade for Sean Murphy?
I think the Marlins should trade for Sean Murphy if the asking price is fair. Murphy is one of the best catchers in baseball and could possibly be packaged with teammate Ramón Laureano. Miami would be giving up a lot in return, but it’s worth it to kill two birds with one stone, upgrading at both catcher in center field for years to come.
In a Murphy/Laureano blockbuster, I believe that Oakland would want one of the Marlins’ major league starting pitchers and 3-4 prospects promising enough to crack their team’s Top 30 list. Braxton Garrett comes to my mind on the starting pitching front. Prospect-wise, Miami can look to trade Zach McCambley, Jacob Berry, and Cody Morissette. The A’s may have different specific prospects in mind, but I mention those names because their market value—when combined with Garrett—is similar to that of Murphy and Laureano, according to Baseball Trade Values.
This fit makes even more sense if Murphy or Laureano is open to signing a contract extension to stay with the Marlins beyond 2025 (the final season that they’re currently under club control).
Should the Marlins trade for Sean Murphy?
This poll is closed
Yes, he’s worth the price
Only if Ramón Laureano is also in the deal
No, focus on other needs