It has been a whirlwind few days Sean Murphy who was acquired by the Atlanta Braves from the Oakland Athletics Monday in a three-way trade that also involved the Milwaukee Brewers. Murphy is currently living in Nashville and planning to work out with Kyle Wright this offseason. He spoke with the media Monday about the trade and his future in Atlanta.
Murphy admitted that when the Athletics acquired Shea Langeliers in a trade package last March that landed Matt Olson in Atlanta, he wondered if his time in the Bay Area was coming to an end.
“I mean, those things happen and you want to speculate, but you never know what anything means,” Murphy said. “When Shea came up and played as well as he did, I knew that the odds increased that I might be moved. But, you don’t really want to think about those things during the season.”
The Braves completed the trade Monday sending pitchers Kyle Muller, Freddy Tarnok and Royber Salinas to Oakland along with veteran catcher Manny Pina. Atlanta also sent catcher William Contreras to the Brewers. Murphy said that Olson was one of the first people to reach out to him after news of the deal broke.
“He says he loves it. Obviously, he’s an Atlanta guy, so he was thrilled to go back home,” Murphy said of Olson. “We were all happy that he got to go back home and be close to his family. He’s had nothing but good things to say. We talked a little bit during the season and when I found that I got traded, he reached out to me right away just to welcome me back to the team.”
Others that reached out to Murphy were of course Alex Anthopoulos, but also Brian Snitker and fellow catcher Travis d’Arnuad.
“Yeah, I’ve heard from both of those guys. They reached out right away,” Murphy said of Snitker and d’Arnaud. “I found out I guess around two o’clock a couple days ago. I can’t even keep track right now. David Forst of the A’s called me and gave me a heads up that this was happening. Right after that, the news drops. My phone has been blowing up, Travis was one of the first guys to reach out to say hi, welcome and we’re stoked to have you on the team. That felt good to have him reach out and immediately include me.”
The catcher position has long been a priority for the Braves under Anthopoulos and they have gotten solid production from that spot over the years in what has usually amounted to a time share. Murphy caught 116 games for the Athletics in 2022 and saw action in 30 more games as the DH. He understands that he is entering into a new situation with d’Arnaud as an All-Star level catcher, but says that he is willing to do whatever it takes to win games.
“Obviously, I want to play as much as possible, but part of this is about winning and we’re in a good spot to win,” Murphy said of pairing with d’Arnaud. “Whatever split me and Travis have, I’ll be fine with. Again, we’re here to win games. Having an All-Star like Travis around is great. He’s a guy to learn from, he knows the staff better than anyone. He’s going to be a great guy to have here and talk to. We’re going to work as a group, not against each other.”
“I think it’s great for everybody. Me and Travis will keep each other healthy, keep each other feeling good,” Murphy added. “Well, it works for the pitchers. Hopefully they trust both of us and it doesn’t matter who’s in there on what day catching them because they have full confidence in whoever’s out there.”
Murphy said that he is currently living in Nashville and that he is excited to come back to the East Coast where his parents currently live. He is still assessing everything that he needs to get taken care of before the start of spring training, but getting to know the pitching staff is going to be near the top of the list.
“There’s going to be a process of me introducing myself to everybody, but also the staff,” Murphy said. “I’ve talked to Sal and Alex, as far as some of the game planning stuff already. So, I’m just trying to get myself familiar with the staff, the pitchers, figure out everything I’ve got to do leading up to spring training then use that time, effectively.”
It is a process that will play out throughout the spring. Murphy was excited for the chance to work with a quality pitching staff like the one in Atlanta. He called getting to know the pitchers and learn their tendencies a good challenge.
“Trying to just figure out how they think and how they like to sequence their pitches,” Murphy said of getting acclimated with the pitching staff. “When you’re out there, you want to minimize the shakes and keep them in their rhythm. That’s the hardest part, figuring out the rhythms that they like to work in and how they like to tunnel their pitches and work their stuff. So, these are conversations that are going to happen throughout spring training. I’m going to be spending a lot of time working with all these guys. I’ve never caught any of them. So, it’s totally new to me, but it’s a good challenge.”
When Anthopoulos discussed the trade Monday night, he made it clear how much the Braves value a defensive first approach to the catcher position. Murphy checks the boxes on that description and said that game planning was one of the most fun parts about being a catcher.
“Yeah, that’s the fun part of the game, that’s the chess match,” Murphy said when asked about planning for a game. “When you put together a game plan and it works, it’s a really good feeling. Then when you put one together and it doesn’t, it’s not so good. The challenge of it is coming together with a staff and putting together something you think is going to work and winning the game is a great feeling.”
“Our goal behind the plate is to win games, and get our pitchers through those games in whatever fashion,” Murphy added. “Anytime you catch a win in the big leagues is a good day. Hitting comes secondary, if you can help with the bat, great, but getting a defense and getting the pitcher through those nine innings is what’s important.”
Murphy appeared in 330 games with Oakland. It is easy to forget it now, but the Athletics won 97 games in 2019, were 36-24 during the shortened 2020 campaign and were 86-76 in 2021 before tearing their roster down after the season. They were a postseason team in 2019 and 2020, so Murphy has seen his fair share of winning in his short career.
“Atlanta is obviously a bigger market, but no, I loved Oakland. In 2019, 2020 and 2021, we had very good teams and that’s just the cycle of what happens in Oakland,” Murphy said of his time with the A’s. “It wasn’t necessarily a surprise, but it’s just something you deal with in that spot. But again, I spent a lot of years in Oakland winning a lot of games and being competitive. I didn’t ever feel like it was a bad spot or anything like that. I loved my time there and I love the guys there, but I guess it was time to move on and we’re happy to be in Atlanta.”
Murphy saw his name involved in trade rumors since the offseason began. It was much more of a when, than an if. It is always tough for a player because they have no control over where they are going. However, Murphy says that landing with the Braves is a great situation and he is looking forward to being part of the team’s core moving forward.
“Absolutely. Atlanta was, as soon as I saw that, I was like, I think that’s a really good spot. I have some family there. I’m living in Nashville now, so that’s sort of close to home. I’m back on the east coast and my parents don’t have to stay up all night and watch the games. I think there’s a lot of great things about Atlanta. Not to mention, they’ve been winning a lot of games, they won a World Series in 2021. I want to win one too and I think Atlanta is a great place to start.”