Brave tonight announce They have extended catcher Shaun Murphy On a six-year, $73 million contract. The deal comes with a $15 million club option for 2029 which excludes purchase. As part of the deal, Murphy will receive $4 million in 2023, $9 million in 2024, and $15 million in 2025-28. He will also donate 1% of his salary to the Atlanta Braves Foundation. Atlanta had just acquired client Rowley Sports Management as the headliner in a three-team trade involving the Brewers and Athletics earlier this month. Murphy was arbitration-eligible in the first year through 2023, so this deal would buy out his remaining three years of club control plus four years as a free agent.
The move continues Atlanta’s recent trend of expanding their core players, and Murphy is joining in Austin RileyAnd the Matt OlsonAnd the Ronald Acuna JrAnd the Ozzy AlbiesAnd the Spencer Stryder And the Michael Harris As players on the current list they were given long-term extensions while they were still under the control of the club. That group of players can now be controlled by Atlanta until 2027, while only Acuna Jr. and Albis have deals expiring before 2029.
The 28-year-old Murphy has proven himself to be one of the best catchers in baseball in all of his recent seasons with Oakland. At the plate, he hit 46 home runs and a combined .236/.326/.429 streak across parts of four major league seasons. This was good for a WRC+116, which indicates that he was 16 percent better than the league batting average. He made a step up at the plate in 2022 as well, losing about 5% of his career strike rate and posting a . 250/. 332/. 426 streak over 612 plate appearances.
Defensively, he has recorded 12 defensive points and saves since 2020 which puts him in the top 10 in the league. Fangraphs framing the scale ranks him as the third-best player in the sport in the same period as well. This combination of solid defense and above-average offense has netted him a career-high distance of 10.6 fWAR, with 2022 accounting for 5.1 of that number.
Murphy’s form, rebuilding Oakland, and slender free agent market for catchers have made him one of the most talked about trading chips in offseason sports. Sure enough, as many as nine teams were tied to him in the weeks leading up to his December 12th trade. It was a good old-fashioned movie, too, as the Braves sent Roeper SalinasAnd the Manny PinaAnd the Kyle Mueller And the Freddie Trunnock to Oakland, and William Contreras And the Justin Yeager To the brewers to seal the deal.
The matchup with Atlanta wasn’t always the clearest matchup on the cards, since the Braves had a powerhouse trio of Travis d’Arnaud, Pena and Contreras on the books going forward. General manager Alex Antopoulos clearly saw an opportunity to upgrade that group and shipped Pena and Contreras to make room for Murphy.
It’s now the second winter in a row that Atlanta traded for an Oakland All-Star and extended it immediately. In their most recent off-season, they acquired Olson and a day later signed him to an eight-year, $168 million extension. Olson has already established himself as an integral part of the Braves’ core, and now it looks like Murphy will do the same from 2023 onwards.
As mentioned earlier, a handful of extensions have created a strong core in Atlanta. In addition to these, they also have Max Fried Under control until 2024, Rookie von Grissom Until 2028 and Kyle Wright through 2026. For a team that won 101 games in 2022, it’s certainly heartening for Braves fans to know that a lot of that core — and now their biggest offseason addition — will be for the long haul.
According to predictions by MLBTR contributor Matt Schwartz, Murphy was set to earn $3.5 million in arbitration this season, so he’ll only get $500,000 more than that figure for next season. This is important for luxury tax calculations, which represent the AAV value of the contract. In Murphy’s case, that AAV would be just over $12 million which pushes the Braves into the first luxury tax tier, even though RosterResource estimates their actual payroll at about $198 million currently (the first luxury tax threshold is $233 million). Of course, the Braves can look to dump the paycheck to get below that mark, but that would only be a small penalty for any overrun at this point. On top of that, they’ll have just over $50 million in club options (no buys) Charlie MortonDarno Kirby YatesAnd the Colin McHughAnd the Orlando Arcia And the Eddie Rosario to decide on the coming winter, which could easily bring them back below the threshold.