Will Braves regret trading William Contreras?

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The Braves made a surprising blockbuster trade last offseason, swinging a three-team deal with the Athletics and Brewers for Sean Murphy. For the most part, the Braves new catcher has come as advertised. He was an All-Star last season and is one of the best defensive catchers in the sport. There’s not much to complain about, other than the fact that the primary piece they traded away, William Contreras, might end up being the best player in the entire trade.

That’s the reason the trade for Murphy was so head-scratching. Contreras worked his way through the minors in the Braves system, impressing at every turn, and when he finally got the call, he was ready. He slashed .279/.354/.506 with 20 homers in his first full major-league season back in 2022. For a position that has become so poor offensively like catcher, that is next level production. He looked well on his way to becoming one of the elite players at his position, but the Braves apparently weren’t as convinced because of his defense.

Contreras was always an offense first catcher and did struggle behind the plate at times. However, he was still just 24-years-old. There had to be some semblance of hope that his defense would improve with time, and in Milwaukee, it didn’t take long. In his first season with the Brew Crew, Contreras blossomed into one of the better defensive backstops in the game to go along with his offense, finishing the 2023 campaign with the 11th highest fWAR in all of baseball at 5.7, the most among catchers.

Considering the Braves also gave up several promising prospects in the trade to the Athletics in order to acquire Murphy, it might be a move Alex Anthopoulos would like to have back. Through 14 games this season, Contreras has picked up right where he left off, slashing .375/.445/.661 and already accruing 0.9 fWAR.

Of course, this conversation isn’t really fair right now, as Sean Murphy is currently on the IL with an oblique injury he suffered on Opening Day, but this isn’t really about Murphy. The Braves had an elite catcher already on their roster in William Contreras, who was under team control for many years at an extremely affordable rate, and they traded him and other top prospects for someone who hasn’t performed as well and may never will.

Photo: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire


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