Braves sign new C Sean Murphy to a $73 million, 6-year deal
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves signed newly acquired catcher Sean Murphy to a $73 million, six-year contract Tuesday, locking up another key player with a long-term deal.
The contract includes a $15 million club option for 2029 with no buyout that could raise the total value of the agreement to $88 million.
Murphy will make $4 million in 2023, $9 million in 2024 and $15 million each season from 2025 through 2028. He agreed to donate 1% of his annual salary to the Atlanta Braves Foundation.
The deal follows a familiar pattern of the Braves 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 sluggers Austin Riley and Matt Olson, as well as rookie stars Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider.
Atlanta has previously signed outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. and second baseman Ozzie Albies to similar pacts, 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.
The 28-year-old Murphy was acquired from the Oakland Athletics shortly after the winter meetings in a three-team deal that also included the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Braves sent All-Star catcher William Contreras and minor league pitcher Justin Yeager to the Brewers, while backup catcher Manny Piña and pitching prospects Kyle Muller, Freddy Tarnok and Royber Salinas went to Oakland.
Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos acknowledged paying a heavy price, but said it was worth the cost to acquire one of the game’s top catchers.
“We definitely gave up a ton,” Anthopoulos said at the time. “But we got a really good player back. Getting players like that is hard.”
Murphy batted .250 with 18 homers, 66 RBIs and a .759 OPS in 148 games this past season. He’s regarded as an elite defender, winning a Gold Glove in 2021.
Murphy is expected to share playing time behind the plate with Travis d’Arnaud, a player with similar offensive and defensive strengths. Those two also are expected to get extensive time at designated hitter, with the idea of keeping them as fresh as possible over the long season.
The acquisition of Murphy has been the biggest offseason move for the five-time defending NL East champions, who also added depth in their bullpen with a trade for former All-Star reliever Joe Jiménez.
But for the second year in a row, one of the team’s most popular and productive players left in free agency.
One year after first baseman Freddie Freeman signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, longtime Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson finalized a $177 million, seven-year deal with the Chicago Cubs.
Vaughn Grissom and Orlando Arcia are the contenders to be Swanson’s replacement unless the Braves make a move to bring in another shortstop before opening day.
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