ATLANTA -- Two weeks after acquiring Sean Murphy from the A’s, the Braves have added him to the long list of high-caliber players who could spend a majority of this decade playing for Atlanta.
Murphy became a part of the Braves’ long-term future when he signed a six-year, $73 million extension on Tuesday night. The recently-acquired catcher’s deal includes a $15 million club option with no buyout for 2029.
"I immediately felt comfortable with the staff in Atlanta," Murphy said. "It was reassuring that through the conversations we had with people, this was a good place to commit to. I got glowing reviews from teammates and everything has good things to say about it."
All told, the Braves could end up giving Murphy a seven-year deal worth $88 million. Not bad for a guy who is regarded as one of the game’s best defensive catchers. He’s drawn some comparisons to J.T. Realmuto, who is currently earning $23.1 million a season with the Phillies.
Murphy will make $4 million in 2023, $9 million in 2024 and $15 million in 2025-2028. His average annual value is $12.2 million. The Braves' payroll is currently projected to approach $239 million. If the payroll remains the same or increases, Atlanta will pay the luxury tax penalty for the first time.
If the Braves were to exceed the competitive balance tax’s first threshold, they would have to pay 20 percent on all overages as first-time offenders. This small penalty likely wouldn’t affect potentially raising the payroll figure with the addition of a shortstop or left fielder.
Murphy joins Michael Harris II, Spencer Strider, Matt Olson, Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley as the All-Star caliber players the Braves can control over at least the next five years.
"I think it comes across to the fans and comes across to everybody that they want to be here," Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos said. "That's a reflection of the staff, from [Braves manager Brian Snitker] to the coaches to the support staff and obviously the fans as well. It's a great atmosphere and the winning is a big part of it."
Players under club control through 2027: Murphy, Harris, Strider, Olson, Acuña ($17M club option), Albies ($7M option in 2026 and 2027) and Riley
Through 2028: Murphy, Harris, Strider, Olson, Acuña ($17M club option) and Riley
Through 2029: Murphy ($15M club option), Harris, Strider ($22M club option), Olson and Riley
Through 2030: Olson ($20M club option), Riley (guaranteed through 2032 with a $20M club option for 2033)
With Murphy, Olson, Albies, Riley, Acuña and Harris locked up, Braves fans can project what the lineup might look like when attending games at Truist Park over the next few years. Strider is the only Atlanta pitcher to get a long-term extension so far.
"It feels unique," Murphy said. "You look at that list of players and you like everything about it. Those guys are awesome. It's an honor to be included in that mix with those guys. So, going forward, I can't imagine this team being anything but great for the next several years."
Murphy was acquired from the A’s on Dec. 12 as part of a three-team deal that also included the Brewers. To land the highly regarded backstop, the Braves parted ways with All-Star catcher William Contreras and the club’s top-ranked prospect (per MLB Pipeline), left-handed pitcher Kyle Muller.
Murphy ranked third among all catchers (min. 400 plate appearances) in 2022 with 5.1 WAR, per FanGraphs, trailing only Realmuto (6.5) and Orioles rookie Adley Rutschman (5.3). He slugged .426 with 18 home runs and 66 RBIs for Oakland this year. He finished with a 120 OPS+ on his way to receiving a share of down-ballot votes for the AL MVP Award.