Astros linked to Oakland catcher Sean Murphy
According to a report from Mark Feinsand, the Astros have emerged as a team in on Sean Murphy. They have plenty of familiarity with the 2021 Gold Glove winner, having seen him plenty of times in AL West showdowns since Murphy came up in 2019. Murphy is under team control through 2025.
It is unclear if acquiring a catcher of Murphy's caliber would usurp the beloved Martin Maldonado as the Astros' primary backstop. Assistant GM Bill Firkus had this to say at the Winter Meetings:
"Maldy is a beloved Astro and we continue to plan to have him next year as part of the team."- Bill Firkus
Murphy holds a career slash line of .236/.326/.429 for a .755 OPS. For comparison, the Astros received a .187 batting average and .565 OPS from catchers this season.
His statcast metrics also are filled with red, finishing in the 80th percentile in xwOBA, 76th in xSLG, 73rd in barrel percentage and was above average in both walk and strikeout rate.
While he does carry a big stick, defense is Murphy's calling card. The aforementioned Gold Glover finished in the 96th percentile in pop time and 86th in framing. While Maldonado's impact on the clubhouse and his prep work cannot be overstated, Murphy is one of the few catchers that may actually serve as a defensive upgrade.
Be it Murphy or Willson Contreras, it is very likely Houston has a new toy to try out behind home plate next season. Contreras would likely operate as more of a DH while Murphy's skillset would command more time behind the dish.
Whoever the acquisition ends up being, Houston continues to relentlessly pursue upgrades this offseason in hopes of landing a second consecutive championship.