Veteran catcher Tom Murphy is making his triumphant return to the SF Giants. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Giants have signed Murphy to a two-year, $8 million pact.
SF Giants reunite with veteran catcher on a two-year deal
Jeff Passan of ESPN adds that Murphy's deal will include a club option for a third year with a $250,000 buyout. Do you remember his first stint with the Giants? He was claimed off of waivers from the Colorado Rockies on March 25, 2019. Four days later, he was shipped to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for a pitching prospect.
Adding a backup catcher was not necessarily a top priority, but we made the case in November that it should be somewhere on the list. Patrick Bailey will enter next season as the starting catcher. The addition of Murphy does nothing to change that.
However, Bailey did admittedly wear down at the end of 2023. His previous career-high in games played as a pro was 83, which he did in 2022. The rookie catcher surpassed that mark with ease last season, appearing in 125 games split between three levels.
Murphy is an experienced backstop. Though, he is not necessarily the type of glove-first catcher teams often seek with backups. He struggles in terms of framing, throwing, and blocking. At the very least, his framing can be improved through coaching.
The 32-year-old does add a little more offense to the lineup, however. Since the start of 2019, Murphy has been one of the better offensive catchers in baseball, posting a 114 wRC+ during that time. Of course, it bears mentioning that the eight-year veteran has spent considerable time on the injured list in recent years.
Giants catchers struggled to the tune of a 79 wRC+ in 2023, so the addition of Murphy should help to bring that number up. This does solidify him as the backup catcher going forward.
It also likely means that former top pick Joey Bart will be moved before the start of the season. Bart is out of options and it would behoove the Giants to move him now rather than risk losing him on waivers. It also likely moves Blake Sabol down the depth chart. Sabol can be optioned next year, so there is a chance he will continue to see playing time at catcher in Triple-A.