A's 'having conversations' about Murphy, others

December 6th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- Sean Murphy was still a member of the A’s at the start of the Winter Meetings. But as the three-day event progresses, there’s a growing feeling that the prized young catcher could soon be on the move.

On the eve of the Winter Meetings, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported that the A’s were nearing a deal to trade Murphy, with the Cardinals, Rays, Guardians and Red Sox all teams in the mix. On Monday, a source told MLB.com that the Astros have also emerged as a possible landing spot for the 28-year-old backstop.

Speaking to reporters inside the suite of the A’s front office at the Winter Meetings on Monday, general manager David Forst indicated that he remains in heavy dialogue with teams regarding several players, though Murphy’s name certainly continues to dominate the discussions.

“We’ve had a lot of phone calls,” Forst said. “We’ve talked to a lot of people and have been busy waiting for calls back. ... We are having conversations about Sean and other players. His name is clearly the most high profile and public of the conversations.”

Is there a feeling that a deal before the end of the Winter Meetings could materialize?

“I don’t have a sense for it,” said Forst. “The things that have gotten done are the top-of-the-market things. I think we’re sort of subject to how quickly the trickle-down happens. That goes for both trade and free-agent conversations. You’re early enough in the process where I think everybody has alternatives and you’re still sort of feeling things out. I can’t say whether we’ll leave here having done something.”

The A’s certainly are not in a rush to trade Murphy, who is entering his first year of arbitration and is under team control through the 2025 season. The only scenario in which Oakland would be willing to deal the 2022 Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award finalist would be one where the return is a package of players that could help address the several areas of need for a rebuilding club that is coming off a 60-102 campaign.

For second-year A’s manager Mark Kotsay, seeing names like Murphy and outfielder Ramón Laureano come up in trade rumors is nothing new. He dealt with a major roster turnover immediately entering last Spring Training when the A’s made a barrage of moves involving stars like Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea. So while Kotsay is proceeding about the offseason expecting to pencil Murphy into the A’s lineup on a regular basis, he’s also well aware of the catcher’s possible departure if an opportunity to improve other areas of the roster arises.

“Two hours before my first conference with the team in Spring Training I was told Matt Olson was going to be traded,” Kotsay said. “There’s no control over what takes place. ... Sean is a great player. He’s a young kid on the right path. We’re all aware of our processes in Oakland. With Sean, I want to write his name in the three-hole and have him in that lineup as a leader. But this is a situation we’ve been in before. We dealt with this last season. I think we’re going to, hopefully, move forward as soon as possible and build something that we all know can be done in Oakland for success in a short and timely manner.”

Another factor that could make a Murphy trade a bit more palpable for the A’s is the emergence of Shea Langeliers, who graduated from his status as Oakland’s No. 1 prospect and flashed his many tools with the A’s as Murphy's backup over the final two months of the season. Should Murphy leave, the A’s believe that Langeliers is capable of handling the catcher position on a regular basis.

“I think he has all the ability to step in and be an everyday Major League catcher,” Kotsay said of Langeliers. “I was really impressed with his game planning and preparation. How he followed and learned from Murph and [Stephen] Vogt. He soaked in a lot of experience in a short amount of time. I do think that if [Langeliers] ends up being here and Murph is not, we’ll have a lot of support for him in terms of game calling and game planning. Can he step in and be the everyday guy? I believe he can.”