The Atlanta Braves have signed another key player to a long-term contract.
After landing catcher Sean Murphy in a three-team deal earlier in December, the Braves announced that the Gold Glove winner agreed to a $73 million, six-year contract.
The deal includes a $15 million club option for the 2029 season. Murphy will earn $4 million in the upcoming 2023 season.
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In 2024, his salary will increase to $9 million. From 2025 through 2028, the catcher is set to make $15 million. He has already committed to donate 1% of his annual earning to the Atlanta Braves Foundation.
Murphy spent the past four years in Oakland with the Athletics, a team that lost more than 100 games last season. He joins a Braves team that won more than 100 games in 2022 and has claimed the NL East title five straight times.
The Braves won the World Series in 2021. Murphy said he is looking forward to settling down on the East Coast.
“My wife is looking forward to having a spot where she feels comfortable, at least for a while,” Murphy said. “That's important to us.”
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In recent years, the Braves organization has prioritized agreeing to new contracts with players who are still under club control for an extended period. Over the past year, they reached long-term deals with Austin Riley and Matt Olson as well as rookie stars Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider.
Harris received Rookie of the Year honors in November, while Strider received the second-most votes.
Atlanta previously signed outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. and second baseman Ozzie Albies to similar deals, ensuring that seven core players are under contract for at least three more seasons — and often much longer — with club options that could extend the deals even more.
“It's an honor to be included in that mix,” Murphy said. “Going forward, I can't see this team being anything but great over the next several years.”
The Braves sent All-Star catcher William Contreras and minor league pitcher Justin Yeager to the Brewers, while backup catcher Manny Pina and pitching prospects Kyle Muller, Freddy Tarnok and Royber Salinas went to Oakland in exchange for Murphy's services.
Murphy was heading into his first year of arbitration and wouldn't have been eligible for free agency until 2026.
Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos was born in Montreal and said he remembers what it was like when a player he was fond of departed.
“I'm sure there's a little part of me that knows what it's like to see good young players traded away, or they couldn't keep them,” Anthopoulos said. “So, I think there's a small part of me that feels like from a fan-base standpoint, it's important that if you're going to buy a jersey, they're going to be here a while.”
Murphy batted .250 with 18 homers, 66 RBIs and a .759 OPS in 148 games this past season. His defensive skills earned him a Gold Glove in 2021.
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Murphy is expected to share playing time behind the plate with veteran Travis d'Arnaud. Contreras and d'Arnaud were able to stay relatively fresh throughout last season by sharing catching and designated-hitting duties throughout last season. The Braves are likely hoping for similar workloads for d'Arnaud and Murphy in 2023.
One of Atlanta's most popular and productive players has left in free agency for the second year in a row. Last year, former NL MVP and fan favorite Freddie Freeman departed for his native California and signed a long-term deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
This month, metro Atlanta native Dansby Swanson signed a $177 million, seven-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. Swanson was coming off a career-best season and played in all 162 games in 2022.
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Vaughn Grissom, who was called up to the big league club during the season to fill in at second base for an injured Albies, is the leading candidate to replace Swanson at shortstop. Infielder Orlando Arcia is also an option.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.