The Cleveland Guardians and Oakland Athletics have had trade discussions surrounding catcher Sean Murphy, writes Zack Meisel of The Athletic.
Murphy’s name has been in trade rumors since the offseason, when the A’s were poised to undergo a major selloff. He never seemed like the highest priority, though, given he’s not set to reach free agency until after the 2025 season. However, in one of the trades that the A’s did make, they sent Matt Olson for a package of prospects that included catcher Shea Langeliers. Since that time, Langeliers has been having an excellent season in Triple-A, hitting 19 home runs and slashing .280/.363/.529 for a wRC+ of 118. That theoretically gives Oakland incentive to trade Murphy, despite his remaining control, allowing them to improve elsewhere on the roster while letting Langeliers take over the catching duties. As such, Murphy has been the focus of recent trade rumors, with the Guardians apparently among those checking in.
The fact that the Guardians are interested isn’t terribly surprising. For one thing, they typically run low payrolls and would surely be interested in the fact that Murphy won’t even reach arbitration for the first time until this winter. Secondly, they haven’t gotten any offensive production from their backstops this season, with Austin Hedges and Luke Maile getting the bulk of the playing time. Though both are considered strong defenders, Hedges has hit .172/.235/.278 for a wRC+ of 46 with Maile slashing .192/.299/.273, wRC+ of 69. Murphy, on the other hand, has a .241/.317/.428 line for a 114 wRC+, making him an obvious upgrade with the bat. And he’s no slouch with the glove either, having won the AL Gold Glove for catchers last year.
Despite that lackluster showing from behind the plate, the Guards are still in the thick of the postseason mix. Their 52-49 record has them just one game back of the Twins in the American League Central and just 1 1/2 games behind the Rays for a Wild Card spot. Bringing on Murphy could give them a boost for the final months of the season but also for the next three campaigns. The A’s, on the other hand, are 39-65, the worst record in the American League, paving the way for their selloff to continue as planned.
They don’t have any real hurry to trade Murphy, meaning they can wait for a truly satisfying offer. As such, Meisel reports that the trade talks with Cleveland have yet to gain any real traction. If the Oakland decision makers aren’t truly bowled over by an offer, they can sit tight and wait. Having Murphy and Langeliers on the same roster in the future wouldn’t be ideal but would certainly be workable, as long as some at-bats in the designated hitter slot were available to keep both guys in the lineup.
Still, if talks pick up again between now and the deadline, there are reasons Cleveland could push a deal over the line. At the end of Meisel’s piece, he notes that the Guardians have nine players who will likely need to be added to the club’s 40-man roster at the end of the year in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. A similar situation played out last year, when the club added 10 players to their roster and had to designate seven others for assignment to create room. The only player on the roster headed into free agency this winter is Hedges, with Bryan Shaw potentially a second, as a the Guardians have a club option for his services next year. As such, the club might have to think about trades wherein multiple prospects are exchanged for a single big league regular. Although the A’s might be sticking to a high asking price, the Guardians might be the team in the best position to pay it.