Rosenthal: Vaughn Grissom was not on the table in Murphy negotiations

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About a week ago, it was reported that the Braves were interested in Sean Murphy. A couple of days after that, Mark Feinsand even tweeted out that Atlanta and Oakland were close to a deal before walking back the report and claiming the Braves were no longer in the running. Fast forward to this Monday, and a three-team deal was worked out between the Braves, Brewers, and A’s that landed Murphy in Atlanta. So what happened over that short time period that led to this all working out? In his latest piece for The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal provides us with the inside scoop.

Perhaps the most notable note in the article is right at the beginning when Rosenthal says that Vaughn Grissom was never going to be included in the trade.

The Oakland A’s wanted two major-league-ready position players for catcher Sean Murphy. The Braves weren’t about to trade Vaughn Grissom, whom they are grooming to potentially replace free agent Dansby Swanson at shortstop. And the A’s didn’t need William Contreras, not after acquiring another catcher from the Braves, Shea Langeliers, in the Matt Olson trade nine months ago.

This is yet another telling sign of how the Braves view Grissom. Even if they were to find a way to bring back Dansby Swanson, they think so highly of Grissom that he wasn’t even on the table in potential discussions, which allowed the Brewers to enter the mix.

Rosenthal highlights how the A’s coveted Esteury Ruiz for his speed and defensive ability in centerfield. Most aren’t nearly as high on Ruiz as Oakland, but the Athletics aren’t concerned with what the rest of the league thinks. They got their guy, which allowed them to pull the trigger on the trade.

The Brewers are fond of William Contreras, and why wouldn’t they be after facing his brother 20 times a year over the last 5+ seasons. He’s already an offensive stud at the catcher position, and Milwaukee believes they can help improve his defense.

Braves: Grading the trade for Sean Murphy

Conteras’ glove behind the plate is a primary reason why the Braves were looking to upgrade at catcher. Rosenthal explains that Atlanta’s front office expects a lot from their backstops defensively, which is what made the Gold Glover Murphy so attractive.

One of the fascinating aspects of this deal is that the Braves set a high bar for their catchers defensively and view William Contreras as similar to Willson, merely adequate behind the plate. Brewers general manager Matt Arnold, on the other hand, noted that Piña, Yasmani Grandal and Omar Narváez became better defenders under the tutelage of Milwaukee’s staff, indicating he believes William can do the same.

Only time will tell if this deal will turn out to be a positive one for the future of the Braves organization. Is Sean Murphy an upgrade over William Contreras? I don’t think anyone would question that, but Murphy is a catcher that likes to play everyday. Meanwhile, the Braves already have Travis d’Arnaud under team control for two more seasons. They also would have had Contreras under team control for five more years. Perhaps if Atlanta is able to extend Murphy throughout the prime years of his career, this will all make a little more sense. But if he only stays with the Braves for the three years he is currently under contract, they will likely need Murphy to continue to produce 5+ fWAR seasons as he did for the first time in 2022 just to break even.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire


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