Last year at this time no one in Seattle knew who Tom Murphy was, except Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto and his staff.
The Mariners acquired Murphy from the San Francisco Giants for a minor league pitcher on March 29. This was after the Mariners returned home from playing the Oakland A’s in Japan. He hadn’t caught a game for the Giants since they had picked him up on waivers from the Colorado Rockies.
Tom Murphy played in Colorado part-time for four years. He played in 81 games over that period of time which is six more than he played for the Mariners all of last season. Also, he ended up hitting 18 home runs and driving in 40 runs. It was more than he had in the four years with the Rockies. His batting average in Seattle of .273 was 47 points greater than the time in Colorado as well.
The Mariners decided to trade last year’s starting catcher Omar Narvaez because Murphy wasn’t a better hitter. In fact, Narvaez numbers were slightly better. The Mariners felt he was a better defensive catcher than Narvaez. Also, the Mariners felt Narvaez would not become a better defensive catcher.
According to manager Scott Servais, Tom Murphy will catch between 55-60 percent of the games while Austin Nola will catch the rest of the games. This could vary depending on how well either one hits during the season and whether Nola has to play at another position because of injuries.
This means that the Mariners are confident in Nola’s catching ability as well as Murphy’s. Servais and Jerry Dipoto are both wanting catchers that can catch the pitchers in the starting rotation.
Tom Murphy will catch Marco Gonzales in the opening game of the season but we may see Nola quite often behind the plate when Gonzales is pitching. Murphy will be catching more with the younger pitchers like Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn (if he makes the team out of spring training). He will also catch when Yusei Kikuchi is pitching early on the season as he is working on his mechanics.
We are hoping with Tom Murphy behind the plate the pitching era will go down from last year. This would be along with the addition of Evan White at first base who plays excellent defense where more balls will be stopped over the season. Go M’s.