The Seattle Mariners are in a weird spot of competing but still planning for the future. Should they entertain trade offers for catcher Tom Murphy?
Last season the Seattle Mariners used 4 different catchers, Austin Nola (gone), Joe Odum (gone), Joe Hudson (gone), and Luis Torrens. The reason that three of the four are now gone are because of the trade last year for Luis Torrens, Cal Raleigh looking close to being MLB ready, and Tom Murphy is healthy.
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Murphy was the starter behind the plate for the Mariners in 2019 but missed all of 2020 due to a lingering foot injury. However, he is now fully healed and is a full participant in workouts, and will be ready for the 2021 season.
Barring any injuries or roster movements, Murphy and Torrens are slated to be the one-two at the catcher position and manager Scott Servais recently said that neither one of them would play more than 120 games, allowing them to both get plenty of at-bats.
Murphy had a rough start to his career in Colorado with the Rockies with just a .710 OPS in 4 years but as the backup to Omar Narvaez (then full-time catcher after he was traded) in 2019, he had an .858 OPS in 281 plate appearances and also had a great 1.0 defensive WAR.
So if teams come calling should the Seattle Mariners listen to their offers and accept a good one?
Yes, if they get an offer that they can not pass up. As former Mariner and current analyst, Ryan Rowland-Smith said on our podcast, the Mariners are in the place where you can try to compete but they are not in a position to make any big signings. This means that they are in a weird place for Tom Murphy as he is good to keep around, but if they get a great trade offer that can help them in the future they should take it, similar to what happened with Austin Nola.
Murphy is 29 and is under team control for next season, 2022, and 2023, so he could be the starting catcher for the first Mariners playoff appearance since 2001 if it were to happen in the next 3 years. However, the same could have been said for Austin Nola, and with Cal Raliegh looking good Murphy could be moved for more players for the future.
I would not do it now, but if Murphy can put up similar stats to 2019 and Raliegh has a great first half in AAA, I would accept the highest bid for Murphy at the deadline. With similar numbers to 2019 at the deadline, Murphy would have a WAR of about 3.0 or higher, and there would certainly be a team that would send top prospects to Seattle in exchange for two and a half years of catcher putting up those numbers.