The Braves made their first splash of the offseason, trading William Contreras and several top prospects for Sean Murphy of the Athletics. It was an intriguing chess move from Alex Anthopoulos, considering catcher was already a position of strength, but the offseason is far from over. The Braves could have multiple tricks up their sleeve, and one might revolve around last year’s starting catcher.
Following the Murphy trade, Alex Anthopoulos has remained firm on Travis d’Arnaud staying with the team. They view him as a leader, and every team needs at least two catchers. With that being said, it wasn’t even a couple of weeks ago that Anthopoulos said that Manny Piña, William Contreras, and Travis d’Arnaud would be on the Opening Day roster, and now two of them are with different organizations.
This has caused speculation around the future of d’Arnaud amongst Braves fans, and David O’Brien of The Athletic believes moving him could be in the future.
#Braves say they plan to have Sean Murphy split catching duties w/ All-Star d'Arnaud and that it'll work because of DH at-bats, etc. And while I don't doubt they can make it work & are prepared to do so, it's also not going to surprise me if they trade d'Arnaud for a SS or LF.
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) December 14, 2022
I’ll say this on O’Brien’s behalf — it has to be something the Braves have at least thought about. Murphy is the type of catcher that should be playing close to every day. d’Arnaud could serve as a backup and DH occasionally, but he’s not necessarily the ideal designated hitter. He’s a fine offensive player — well above average for a catcher — but the Braves could easily find a more powerful option to serve in a permanent role as the designated hitter. Most of d’Arnaud’s value comes from what he brings defensively behind the plate, which is now deteriorated with Murphy in the picture.
Still, there are far more reasons for the Braves to keep d’Arnaud than there are to trade him. He’s one of the leaders in the clubhouse, something that is critical, especially if Dansby Swanson leaves in free agency.
I’m also not sure what d’Arnaud would fetch in a trade. Sure, he’s had some fantastic seasons with the Braves. But for most of his career, d’Arnaud has been injury prone and league average. He’s also set to enter his age-34 season and only comes with two years of control. Could the Braves get something for him in a trade? Absolutely, but I don’t think it would be anything spectacular.
Lastly, I don’t think Alex Anthopoulos has forgotten about the mess at the catcher position in 2021. The Braves lost d’Arnaud for most of the season, didn’t have a backup plan, and had to roll with Kevan Smith and Jeff Mathis behind the plate. Thankfully, d’Arnaud returned for the playoff run, but before that, it was brutal. The Braves don’t want that to happen again in 2023.
Alex Anthopoulos has shown he will go to any length to upgrade the roster, but I don’t see trading d’Arnaud as a likelihood. The risk of letting him go to another club doesn’t outweigh the reward of whatever they would get in a trade.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
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