Catcher was a black hole for the Cleveland Guardians offensively last year. Austin Hedges hit just .163 with seven home runs and 30 RBIs, yet he caught 105 games for Cleveland. Luke Maile, the other catcher who received significant playing time in Cleveland last year, was not much better at the plate (.221 average, three home runs, 17 RBI). If the Guardians want to contend again in 2023, and especially if they want to field an offense that will compete in the playoffs, they cannot give 475 at-bats to defense-only players. This problem was exacerbated by giving 535 at-bats to Gold Glove center fielder Myles Straw, who hit just .221 this season.
While Straw is a potential trade candidate himself this offseason, the trade market provides an avenue for the Guardians to upgrade significantly at catcher, without sacrificing defense, and while allowing prospect Bo Naylor to continue developing. Let’s take a look at the Guardians’ current catching situation as the roster stands today, and look at what it might cost to acquire Oakland's Sean Murphy, who would immediately provide a clear offensive upgrade while also playing elite-caliber defense, which is so highly valued by Cleveland.