Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reported ($$$) that the Braves have checked in on Oakland’s star catcher Sean Murphy and are drawing interest on Manny Pina. Rosenthal gauges the probability of the Braves actually making a move for Murphy as “slim”, but used this as an example of front offices being thorough in exploring all options to improve their team in the offseason. It should come as no surprise to Braves fans that Alex Anthopoulos is used as an example for this, given his tendency to find creative solutions for adding the same value to the team as some expensive options for the cost of minimal resources.
As for Murphy as a player, he is very good, worth 5.1 fWAR in 2022, with a 122 wRC+ while underperforming his xwOBA. Murphy is a strong defensive catcher, though this will likely be less valuable whenever the league seemingly inevitably implements automated ball/strike systems, and is also a solidly above average hitter. Murphy recently turned 28 and has another three years of team control left. This would be an expensive trade for Atlanta, but it would be for a very good player, despite him joining an already crowded position group.
Rosenthal does seem to consider the Braves’ moving Pina as a real possibility, as Travis d’Arnaud and William Contreras are pretty established options at catcher. The Braves could, however, carry three catchers with the DH now in the NL, and use Contreras primarily as a DH, while having d’Arnaud and Pina catch a large proportion of the games each.
Pina had a long track record as a average/below average bat who is a strong defender and a good veteran presence, before missing most of 2022 with a wrist injury. That is a very valuable catcher and the Braves have him under contract for $4.5 million this year, with a $4 million club option for next season. Pina is already 35 though, so regression may be coming for him. With that being said, $4.5 million is a very affordable price and the baseline league-wide at catcher is very low, so Pina likely does hold some trade value as a leader who provides a solid floor at the position, especially with the added upside of a relatively cheap team option.