On one hand, when it came to the Braves making a significant trade this offseason to upgrade a position, that upgrade being at the catcher position was likely a surprise to many.
However, it should come as no surprise that Alex Anthopoulos once again moved quickly to make sure a talented player such as Sean Murphy stayed in Atlanta for quite a while.
Just a few weeks after acquiring Murphy from the Athletics, the Braves moved quickly to potentially keep him in Atlanta through 2029. Though Murphy is still three years away from free agency, the fact that he has quickly established himself as one of the most durable and best two way catchers in baseball makes this a logical investment for Atlanta.
Of course, this is the second time in the past nine months that the Braves have traded for a player from Oakland and quickly extended him to be a part of the Braves present and future core. When the Braves traded for Matt Olson in March of 2022, he was signed to an eight-year extension within hours of the trade being announced. With Murphy now signed, the Braves have long-term deals in place with their catcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, center fielder, and right fielder. Four of these six players were an All-Star in 2021 or 2022, while Michael Harris II is the reigning NL Rookie of the Year and Murphy produced the third highest fWAR in baseball last year among catchers.
The $73 million guaranteed investment to Murphy over the next six years is currently the fifth highest investment to a catcher in baseball. Since Sean Murphy debuted in 2019, he has the third highest fWAR among major league catchers. Three of the other four catchers in the top five are also three of the four catchers with higher overall contracts currently in terms of dollars (J.T Realmuto, Willson Contreras, Yasmani Grandal). The other is Dodgers catcher Will Smith, who in time will likely become the highest paid catcher in the game.
In other words, while the Braves are paying top dollar compared to what other catchers make in baseball, this seems to be a deal that will be of good value over time for the Braves. Especially with changes that are coming in 2023 and beyond, Murphy’s value as both a fielder and hitter could make this deal be of great value for years to come.