Sean Murphy stands at the center of the offseason trade market for catchers, and the Oakland star is drawing plenty of interest. The Guardians, White Sox, Rays, Red Sox, Cardinals and even the Braves have all been linked to him recently, but the A’s are just one of two teams widely expected to trade a catcher this winter. The Blue Jays, who have a trio of Major League-caliber catchers on the roster — Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk and Gabriel Moreno — are also pondering the possibility of trading from that depth to address areas of need on the roster.
A trade involving one of the Toronto backstops, however, might not come together particularly quickly. In writing about the Twins’ desire to add to their catching corps, Dan Hayes of The Athletic reported this week the Jays appear to be intent on waiting until some of the top names on the free-agent market have signed before they begin more earnestly engaging in talks with teams that miss out on their top targets. Jansen, with two years of club control remaining (as opposed to Kirk’s four and Moreno’s six), is the most logical trade option of the trio, but all three should draw considerable interest and prompt offers of some extent.
It’s worth bearing in mind, too, that one offer could accelerate the Jays’ willingness to make a deal, so even if their current preference is to let the market play out, that’s not a guarantee they’ll wait until Willson Contreras, Christian Vazquez and perhaps Murphy all have new teams before making a swap.
A few notes on the rest of the catching market…
- The Marlins made an inquiry with Willson Contreras’ representatives but aren’t expected to be prominent players in his market, per the New York Post’s Jon Heyman. Unsurprisingly, Heyman suggests that Contreras’ price tag was deemed too steep for the Fish, who received underwhelming production from Jacob Stallings after acquiring him from the Pirates last offseason. Miami has been linked to trade interest in Contreras at multiple points in the past, so it’s only logical they’d at least gauge his price tag now that he’s on the open market. The 30-year-old is the top catcher available in free agency and seems likely to command a guarantee of four-plus years after a .243/.349/.466 showing with the Cubs. He rejected a qualifying offer from Chicago, so he’d cost any signing team a draft choice.
- The Royals have drawn some trade interest in young catcher/outfielder MJ Melendez, reports Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic. The 24-year-old made his major league debut this year and hit .217/.313/.393 with 18 home runs across 534 plate appearances. That’s roughly league average output once one accounts for the diminished offensive environment and Kansas City’s cavernous ballpark, by measure of wRC+. Melendez, a recent top prospect, showed a promising combination of power and plate discipline while splitting his time between catcher, the corner outfield and designated hitter. Kansas City can control Melendez for six seasons and seems unlikely to deal him, although his path to everyday reps behind the plate is blocked by face of the franchise Salvador Perez. The seven-time All-Star is under contract through 2025, and the deal contains a club option for the ’26 season. Rosenthal unsurprisingly writes that Kansas City has no interest in trading Perez.
- Roberto Perez’s first season with the Pirates was cut short after 21 games by a severe hamstring strain that required season-ending surgery. The veteran backstop, soon to turn 34, is back on the open market. Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette speaks with a number of members of the Bucs’ pitching staff who hope the team re-signs Perez. Hurlers like JT Brubaker and Chase De Jong raved to Mackey about the longtime Cleveland backstop’s ability to connect with his pitchers and call a game. Perez has never been an impactful hitter, but he’s a two-time Gold Glove winner. The Pirates are sure to bring in some catching help this winter, as prospect Endy Rodriguez is currently the only player at the position on the 40-man roster.