Do the Braves feature MLB’s best performing offseason acquisition?

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There won’t be many offseason splashes when a club has most of its core locked up as the Braves do.

Atlanta features a number of players on long-term deals — Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies, Matt Olson, Ronald Acuna Jr., Michael Harris II, and Spencer Strider. It leaves little room to make blockbuster-esque moves, but Alex Anthopoulos did swing one this offseason.

The Braves traded away a haul of players to acquire Sean Murphy, and then AA hammered out one of his patented long-term extensions that will keep Murphy in Atlanta until 2030.

Who is the MLB’s best performing offseason acquisition? 

I did this exercise about six weeks ago and will continue to update it throughout the season. Here’s my piece from over a month ago:

Stats as of 5/11

  • MetsJustin Verlander — 12.0 innings, 2.25 ERA, 4.23 FIP, 0.833 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 0.2 fWAR
  • Padres: Xander Bogaerts — 36 games, .272/.367/.441, .808 OPS, 15 RBIs, 6 homeruns, 1.7 fWAR 
  • Rangers: Jacob deGrom — 30.1 innings, 2.67 ERA, 1.60 FIP, 0.758 WHIP,13.4 K/9, 1.4 fWAR
  • Phillies: Trea Turner — 37 games, .261/.305/.408, .713 OPS, 10 RBIs, 4 homeruns, 0.7 fWAR
  • Twins: Pablo Lopez — 49.1 innings, 3.47 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 1.074 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 1.1 fWAR
  • Marlins: Luis Arraez — 34 games, .398/.457/.488, .944 OPS, 13 RBIs, 1 homerun, 1.0 fWAR
  • Cubs: Dansby Swanson — 36 games, .289/.392/.423, .814 OPS, 15 RBIs, 3 homeruns, 1.7 fWAR
  • Yankees: Carlos Rodón — N/A

But none are performing better than the Braves’ Sean Murphy.

The former Athletic ranks second in fWAR (2.3) behind Zac Gallen (2.4) thanks to some unbelievable offense and Gold Glove defense. He’s slashing .288/.428/.613 with nine long balls, good for a 1.040 OPS. His 178 wRC+ is fifth-best among all position players; he’s third in slugging and fourth in runs batted in, all while playing elite defense behind the dish, accumulating a league-leading 6.3 Defensive WAR.

Let’s update it. Stats as of 6/21

  • MetsJustin Verlander — 52.0 innings, 4.50 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 1.21 WHIP, 7.62 K/9, 0.6 fWAR
  • Padres: Xander Bogaerts — 68 games, .260/.347/.390, .737 OPS, 109 wRC+, 24 RBIs, 7 homeruns, 1.9 fWAR 
  • Rangers: Jacob deGrom — 30.1 innings, 2.67 ERA, 1.60 FIP, 0.758 WHIP,13.4 K/9, 1.4 fWAR
  • Phillies: Trea Turner — 72 games, .244/.293/.380, .673 OPS, 80 wRC+, 22 RBIs, 7 homeruns, 1.0 fWAR
  • Twins: Pablo Lopez — 90 innings, 4.40  ERA, 3.49 FIP, 1.14 WHIP, 11 K/9, 1.9 fWAR
  • Marlins: Luis Arraez — 68 games, .398/.448/.486, .934 OPS, 158 wRC+, 35 RBIs, 2 homerun, 2.1 fWAR
  • Cubs: Dansby Swanson — 72 games, .263/.351/.399, .750 OPS, 109 wrC+, 31 RBIs, 7 homeruns, 2.7 fWAR
  • Yankees: Carlos Rodón — N/A
  • Braves: Sean Murphy — 57 games, .287/.385/.535, .919 OPS, 148 wRC+, 42 RBIs, 12 homeruns, 3.1 fWAR

The Braves Gold Glove catcher has amassed the fifth-most wins above replacement, despite playing only 57 games, behind guys like Freddie Freeman (3.2 fWAR across 73 games), Wander Franco (3.4 fWAR across 71 games), Ronald Acuna Jr. (3.5 fWAR across 73 games), and Corbin Carroll (3.5 fWAR across 71 games).

What Luis Arraez is doing in Miami is nothing short of spectacular, and it’s looking to be one of the worst trades in recent memory for the Twins, as Pablo Lopez has struggled since I last explored this topic. The Marlins are ecstatic with the trade and Arraez, but he’s still not as valuable as Murphy.

Xander Bogaerts has picked it up as of late but is still underperforming by his standards.

Justin Verlander, Trea Truner, Jacob deGrom, and Carlos Rodon have their respective clubs scratching their heads. Verlander looks nothing like the guy who won the Cy Young last year, and Trea Turner is batting 20% worse than league average. I still believe both will experience positive regression, but it doesn’t look great right now.

Dansby Swanson is the second-best offseason acquisition in terms of production. He’s sporting the highest fWAR among shortstops, though Orlando Arcia has been better on a per game basis. Still, Swanson’s impact pales in comparison to Sean Murphy’s.

The Braves backstop is the best defender in the league, not just among catchers, and is on track to record career highs in most offensive metrics. He’s the leading All-Star vote-getter among NL catchers and is likely en route to another Gold Glove. Alex Anthopoulos did more than hit a home run in the Murphy trade; he’s still the best-performing offseason acquisition to this point in the season.

Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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