I have some doubts. I am not inserting my opinion here, but rather reading between the lines of how the SF Giants have acted over the past year. According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Giants have checked in on Oakland A's catcher Sean Murphy despite having Joey Bart penciled in as the starting catcher in 2023.
Is Joey Bart the long-term answer at catcher for the SF Giants?
This, by itself, might not mean much. However, it is not the first time that the Giants have kicked the tires on Murphy. Slusser is well connected with how both the Giants and A's operate, so what she is reporting carries weight.
The Giants went into last season with Bart as the starting backstop. It was an up-and-down season for the young catcher. He got off to a really slow start at the plate, posting a .600 OPS in 102 plate appearances before being optioned to Triple-A.
He returned a month later and looked like a potential everday catcher as he recorded a .792 OPS over his next 126 plate appearances. However, Bart's performance cratered in the final month of the season and he finished with an overall .215/.296/.364 line (86 OPS+) with 11 home runs, 25 RBI, and 34 runs in 291 plate appearances.
On the other hand, Bart's defense was lauded as a strength out of college but that he not transitioned to the majors. The 25-year-old catcher ranked as a below-average defensive catcher in 2022 as he was worth -2.8 Catcher Defensive Adjustment (CDA).
Bart is still very likely the short-term fit at catcher, but it bears mentioning that he was drafted by a previous regime. The Giants' interest in Murphy is not surprising and it would be the type of move that would immediately supplant Bart at cacther.
In four seasons, Murphy has posted a .755 OPS while taking home the Gold Glove award at catcher in 2021. He is a complete package with three years of team control remaining, so the cost to acquire him will be substantial.
Of course, the Giants and A's have not connected on many trades over the past 25 years, making a deal for the 28-year-old catcher less likely.
That said, it does make you wonder how the Giants actually view Bart. He is the number one option at catcher in the organization, but the front office has flirted with the idea of replacing more than once. He is penciled in as the starting catcher in 2023, but if his struggles continue, how much patience will they have?