The Cleveland Guardians need a big upgrade at catcher, and a former GM believes there’s a fix in the American League that you’ve read about here before.
The Athletic’s Jim Bowden wrote (subscription required) the Guardians should trade for A’s backstop Sean Murphy, a product of Wright State. Sounds great, but when looking at Bowden’s proposed trade, you get the feeling the A’s might ask for a little bit more.
Murphy is under club control through 2025 and becomes first-year arbitration eligible this offseason, so he’ll get more expensive, but he’s not sending any owners to the poor house.
The 27-year-old catcher hit 17 home runs with 59 RBIs in 2021 and will likely to be around those numbers again, as he currently has nine jacks, to go along with 36 RBIs. He current has a WAR of 0.9.
For Murphy, Bowden offered up starting pitcher prospect Peyton Battenfield and INF/OF Jake Fox. Battenfield, a starter who was acquired before last year’s deadline from the Rays for Jordan Luplow, is a nice prospect, but this deal just seems a little too easy for Chris Antonetti, Mike Chernoff and the Guardians.
Battenfield is 5-5 with a 3.14 ERA through 17 starts for Class AAA Columbus. Fox is an intriguing talent as well, but still has a long way to go until he hits his MLB born-on date. He’s 19 years old and was Cleveland’s third-round pick out of Lakeland Christian School in Florida. Bowden put a light on Fox’s ability to get on base. He’s getting on at a .424 clip (through July 11) while playing for Class A Lynchburg.
It’s growing increasingly frustrating for fans to watch the Guards send out Austin Hedges and Luke Maile at the catcher position. The lack of offense reared its ugly again during the second game of Tuesday’s double header.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Maile had one of the worst three-pitch strikeouts you’d ever seen.
And while upgrading the catching spot appears like a slam dunk, don’t look for the Guardians to do anything.
While Cleveland is hanging around contention, the year is very clearly about finding out about the next wave of talent. Look no further than this stat: The Guardians have had 10 players make their major-league debut in 2022, with outfielders Alex Call and Nolan Jones being the latest to get a shot.
I write this to point out that Hedges and Maile are keeping the seat warm for catching prospect Bo Naylor. The younger brother of Josh Naylor was recently promoted to Class AAA Columbus, but he’s not expected to make his debut this season, having just 59 Triple-A at-bats under his belt.
The Athletic’s Zack Meisel essentially said the same thing when weighing in on whether the Guardians could be a factor in the potential trade of Cubs’ catcher Wilson Contreras.