Sean Murphy is a nearly perfect trade target for the Cleveland Guardians

Los Angeles Angels v Oakland Athletics
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Can the Guardians Afford Murphy?

While Murphy would provide some cost savings in 2023, the Guardians are certainly aware that his salary will continue to escalate through his arbitration years. This should not be as much of a concern for them in the years to come as it has been recently. The Guardians’ new minority owner David Blitzer joined their ownership group with a 25% share and the option to become a majority owner in six years. Blitzer brought credibility and sports experience to the Cleveland ownership group – he also owns NBA, NHL and multiple soccer franchises. There has been speculation that the Guardians will become more active in free agency due to his influence, but locking up their own pre-arbitration or arbitration-eligible players also becomes a more consistent option for them. While in years past, a player entering arbitration may have been a non-starter in trade discussion, look for the Guardians to be more diverse in how they pursue talent moving forward.

Financials aside, there is still the question of prospect cost, and the Guardians match up well with the A’s there, too. The A’s have an elite catching prospect in Shea Langeliers, who they acquired from Atlanta in the Matt Olson trade last March, so they will not require a direct replacement for Murphy. Meanwhile, the Guardians have a farm system that is overstocked with young talent. Cleveland has the third-ranked minor-league system in baseball according to, and believe it or not, that may be too low. Many of their prospects are undervalued because prospect rankings depress contact-first players such as Steven Kwan and Will Brennan and pitchers who pitch to contact, who the Guardians value more than other franchises.

A trade for Murphy won’t come cheap. The A’s trade for Olsen provides a nice template for what it might take. Oakland got four prospects back from the Braves, two of them in the top 100 in baseball, though none were in the top 50. The A’s would probably start with one of the Guardians pitching prospects – #3 prospect Gavin Williams (#53 overall) makes sense for both teams. Nolan Jones would have been more valuable to the A’s than to the Guardians - at least before his trade to the Rockies this week - as his primary position is third base and would make a palatable second prospect to add. The Guardians could also offer Jose Tena, who is a projectable middle 21-year-old infield prospect, but is behind multiple other prospects right now. They could close out the deal offering a lower-level outfield prospect or any number of pitching prospects.

Four or five prospects is a steep cost, even to a deep minor-league system. However, the Guardians' minor-league system is stocked with players that will provide a pipeline for them at nearly every position over the next few years. If they could add Murphy and pair him with Naylor for the next 2-3 years without giving up any of their top prospects who are close to the majors, they should be willing to make the move.

Meanwhile, the A’s will likely be looking for players who will be ready to contribute in 2-3 years. On paper, this seems like a nearly perfect match, and certainly one that is fun to think about as the rumors start to fly this offseason.