Sean Murphy Traded To Braves; The Pluses And Negatives

Sean Murphy
Sean Murphy was traded to the Braves Monday. Atlanta upgraded themselves at catcher, but did they give up too many prospects to do so? The Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Biggest Plus When Braves Traded For Sean Murphy Was Upgraded Defense

When the Oakland A’s traded Sean Murphy to the Braves for pitching prospects and a backup catcher, it was fair to ask if Atlanta gave up too much? The answer is a bit of a mixed bag. The Braves definitely gained an excellent defensive catcher, and Murphy may still have untapped power as a hitter. Moving away from the cavernous Oakland Coliseum certainly will not hurt.

Murphy also rates highly as a defensive catcher. Whether or not framing pitches matters depends on how soon MLB puts in an automated strike zone. His quick release helps with throwing out runners, something Atlanta struggled with at times last year. Murphy and Travis d’Arnaud both handle pitching staffs well, but Murphy’s age 28, means d’Arnaud can back up Murphy. Murphy also benefits Atlanta in that he is under club control through 2025. He also only makes $725,000 next season.

Downside To Trading For Murphy Is A Thinner Prospect Pool

Scouts considered Kyle Muller Atlanta’s best prospect. Muller may not be the on the same level as William Contreras as far as recognition by the average fan, but trading Muller away creates a problem for Atlanta. The pool of prospects after trading him, Freddy Tarnok, and Royber Salinas shrinks greatly for a mid season trade. Most of the Braves minor league talent resides currently below AA.

If Atlanta suffers a major injury along the lines of Ozzie Albies or Ronald Acuna Jr. the last two seasons they may not be able to fill the hole in their roster. Prospects, and their grades, change in a short period of time, but much of their value now rests in the hands of Atlanta’s player development. Given the Braves young, talented roster there should be plenty of confidence in the teams ability to develop players. Where those players are in the minor league system may mean the major league club takes a small hit while waiting for that talent to prove its major league ready.

What Happens If Braves Cannot Resign Dansby Swanson?

Dansby Swanson represents another issue for Atlanta now that they traded away Muller. Failing to resign him now makes less sense, since they have very little to trade for another shortstop. The list of free agent shortstops also shrunk after Carlos Correa signed with the San Francisco Giants.

If the Braves and Swanson were close on a contract, or even negotiating, the issue of replacing him may not come up. The reality is that the two sides are not close and most analysts expect the team to lose him. Swanson stepped into a leadership role after Freddie Freeman left last offseason. How fans react after losing another popular player also matters. GM Alex Anthopoulos needs to answer some questions surrounding Swanson soon, or the Braves may fall behind in a crowded NL East.

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