The MLB offseason isn’t quite over, but most of the marquee free agents are off the board. There are a few still available — Adam Duvall, Trey Mancini, Andrew Chafin, etc. — but none are exactly making or breaking a team’s chances at a championship. The Braves haven’t been active in the free agent market this offseason, but Alex Anthopoulos has swung a blockbuster trade and subsequent extension with Sean Murphy to pair with Travis d’Arnaud. When a club has locked up its core the way Atlanta has, there will always be quiet winters. So, now that we are a couple of months away from Spring Training, I thought it would be a perfect time to look at FanGraphs‘ collective 2023 projections for the Braves, beginning with the catcher position.
The Braves already had one of the best catching duos before the club dealt William Contreras. With the aforementioned Murphy in the fold, Atlanta has arguably the best catching tandem in baseball, but FanGraphs doesn’t see it that way. The site projects the Braves catchers, including Chadwick Tromp, to produce a collective 4.9 WAR — 3.6 for Murphy and 1.2 for d’Arnaud. That mark ranks fourth in baseball, behind the Dodgers, Orioles, and Blue Jays.
Murphy is projected to slash .245/.328/.435, which is above his career average but below his 2022 production with the Athletics. In a more hitter-friendly Truist Park, I’d expect those figures to be slightly higher, especially considering the improved lineup surrounding him in Atlanta compared to Oakland. d’Arnaud is projected to slash .251/.307/.421, which is somewhat less productive than his All-Star campaign in 2021.
Murphy is projected to take about 70% of the plate appearances for the catchers, and I think that’s dead on with what we will see from the position. The Gold Glove winner is younger, more durable, a more productive hitter, and a better defender. Sean Murphy’s production drops off significantly as a designated hitter as well. It will keep Travis d’Arnaud fresh to start about 30% of games, and the Braves will always have an elite bat starting at catcher with both healthy.
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