We are now perilously close to the MLB Trade Deadline.
And the question of whether the Guardians will be buyers or sellers is on every fan’s mind.
Likely somewhere in the middle.
But if the Guardians do intend to make a splash at the deadline, there’s one name to keep an eye out for: Oakland Athletics catcher Sean Murphy.
On Saturday morning, Guardians insider Terry Pluto published a trade deadline roundup of what he’s hearing.
Among the bunch was a blurb about who the Guardians might be interested in ahead of the deadline.
— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) July 30, 2022
Unsurprisingly, help at catcher was on the list:
“Fans keep asking if the Guardians will be “buyers or sellers?” The answer is both… or maybe neither. They aren’t going to bid on Juan Soto or another high-priced player. It does mean they are willing to part with some prized prospects “for players under control through 2023, ideally longer,” as I was told by a top official. Oakland catcher Sean Murphy is one of their top targets, but I was told no deal was close at the moment.”
Cleveland’s interest in Murphy is hardly surprising.
If the Guardians want an upgrade at catcher, Murphy would surely get the job done.
This season, Murphy is batting .241 with 11 home runs and a .739 OPS.
He would be an immediate upgrade over the Guardians’ current options.
Austin Hedges, despite a strong defensive game, is a total liability in the batting order.
In just 63 games, Hedges is batting .172 with a .512 OPS.
He’s also sporting a 0.0 WAR, evidence that Hedges, even as a starter, isn’t an upgrade over their backup options.
If the Guardians really wanted to make a splash at catcher, they might target Cubs backstop Wilson Contreras.
But Contreras is expected to garner significant interest.
And the Guardians may be unwilling to meet the price of a bidding war between teams like the Blue Jays and Yankees.
In Murphy, the Guardians get an excellent consolation prize at a much cheaper cost.
Further, according to Pluto, the Guardians aren’t in on any “high-priced players.”
That likely includes Contreras.
The Guardians are not a Sean Murphy away from WS contention. The Guardians should not trade top prospects for Sean Murphy. Bo Naylor is the catcher of the future. https://t.co/wdpbGdqU5T
— Ben Gardner (@BenGardner87) July 29, 2022
Who might the Guardians cough up to bring in Murphy?
According to Pluto, the Guardians aren’t shy about including some higher-tier prospects.
But in a deal for Murphy, George Valera, Daniel Espino, and Gavin Williams should likely be off limits.
Perhaps sending back Bo Naylor could get the job done, considering Murphy is also a catcher with controllability.
Then there’s Franmil Reyes hanging over everything.
Getting someone like Murphy while also getting rid of Reyes would count as a win-win.
It sounds like there might be some muted interest in Reyes, fortunately:
“Franmil Reyes was in right field when the Guards played in Tampa Bay Friday night. Scouts were in the stands. Cleveland would love to move Reyes, who is mostly a DH. Reyes batted .135 in April. He’s shown some signs of life since coming off the injured list on June 21, batting .240 (.722 OPS) with 6 HR in 117 at-bats. He also has fanned 46 times in those 117 at-bats.”
If other teams are interested in Reyes, all the better.