Sean Murphy to Braves, Esteury Ruiz to Athletics, William Contreras to Brewers in Three-Team Deal

Sean Murphy tags out the sliding Matt Duffy on a play at the plate
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Sean Murphy Heads to Braves in Three-Team Deal

Sean Murphy, the 2021 American League Gold Glove Catcher, has been traded from the Oakland Athletics to the Atlanta Braves. The 28-year-old headed east Monday afternoon in a blockbuster three-team deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, the Braves announced in a press release Monday evening. In return, the Athletics received four players from the Braves and one from the Brewers. The Brewers, meanwhile, received one player from the Athletics and two — including 2022 National League All-Star catcher William Contreras — from the Braves.

Diagram showing Sean Murphy trade, a three-team deal involving the Oakland Athletics, Atlanta Braves, and Milwaukee Brewers
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What the Braves Get: Sean Murphy

The Braves get Murphy, who is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. Murphy joined the Athletics as a September call-up in 2019, debuting on the fourth of that month.[1] In 2020, his first full year in the majors, he finished tied for fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. As mentioned in the introduction, 2021 saw him win a Gold Glove. He played 330 games in Oakland between 2019 and 2022, slashing .236/.326/.429 (259-for-1099) with 70 doubles, two triples, 46 home runs, 147 RBI, 126 walks, 291 strikeouts, 149 runs scored, a .328 wOBA, and 15.6 wRAA.

Defensively, Murphy totaled nine Total Zone Runs Above Average (Rtot on Baseball Reference) and 12 Defensive Runs Saved (Rdrs).

What the Athletics Get

The four players going from Atlanta to Oakland are left-hander Kyle Muller, right-hander Freddy Tarnok, right-hander Royber Salinas, and catcher Manny Piña. Heading to Oakland from Milwaukee is outfielder Esteury Ruiz.

Kyle Muller has made 12 total major league appearances (11 starts) and is still a rookie. The 6’7”, 250 lb. 25-year-old — the second-ranked prospect in the Braves system on Fangraphs — rates highly in the Fangraphs prospects report. His fastball is 70/70, slider is 60/60, curveball is 55/55, changeup is 45/45, and command is 30/35.

Right-handed prospect Freddy Tarnok, 24, was the ninth-ranked prospect in the Braves system on Fangraphs. His fastball rates 55/60 on Fangraphs, while his slider is 40/45, his curveball is 50/50, his changeup is 45/55, and his command is 45/50. Tarnok has pitched 2/3 of an inning at the major league level, pitching the last two outs for the Braves in their August 17 loss to the New York Mets. Righty Royber Salinas, the 17th-ranked Braves prospect on Fangraphs, joined the Braves organization in 2019. The 21-year-old Venezuelan, who was 18 when the Braves signed him, has not advanced past High-A ball yet. His fastball rates 70/70 on Fangraphs, while his curveball is 60/60, his changeup is 45/50, and his command is 30/35.

Position Players

The Texas Rangers originally signed Manny Piña, then 18, in 2005. The Venezuelan catcher, now 35, played in the minors for five seasons before being traded to the Kansas City Royals, who sent him straight to the minors. There he remained until finally making his major league debut in 2011. He played four games in the majors in 2011 and one in 2012, spending the rest of 2012 in Double-A and Rookie ball. Piña returned to the minors in 2013 and stayed there into 2016, going through the systems of the Royals, Seattle Mariners, and Detroit Tigers before arriving with the Brewers, who called him up in 2016. He stayed in the big leagues with the Brewers, remaining with the team through 2021. Piña signed with the Braves November 2021, playing five games with them in 2022.

Esteury Ruiz arrived in Milwaukee from San Diego August 1 as part of the return haul for All-Star closer Josh Hader. The 21-year-old Dominican played in 17 games in 2022 — 14 for the Padres and three for the Brewers. When he returns to the majors, he will still be a rookie. His prospects report on Fangraphs has him 30/35 in hitting, 40/40 in game power, 50/50 in raw power, 70/70 in speed, and 35/45 in fielding.

What the Brewers Get

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The Brewers obtained one player from the Athletics, right-handed reliever Joel Payamps. From the Braves, they scored minor-league righty reliever Justin Yeager and All-Star catcher William Contreras, who started the 2022 All-Star Game as the NL designated hitter.

Joel Payamps, 28, has been in the systems of several teams but has only pitched in the majors with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Toronto Blue Jays, Royals, and Athletics. He has 82 appearances spread across four seasons (2019–22), although his service time is only at two years. This gives the Brewers one more year of team control before he becomes arbitration-eligible. Payamps mostly pitches in the seventh and eighth. He has finished 27 games in his major league career and has yet to record a save. Justin Yeager was drafted by the Braves in 2019. The 6’5”, 215-lb 24-year-old has not yet progressed past Double-A.

The highlight of the haul for the Brewers is catcher William Contreras, the younger brother of former Chicago Cubs and now St. Louis Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras. William, 24, debuted in 2020 with the Braves (four games) and served as the backup catcher on the 2021 World Series champions during his rookie season. In 2022, Contreras had his breakout season, slashing .278/.354/.506 (93-for-334) with 14 doubles, a triple, 20 home runs, 45 RBI, 51 runs scored, a .370 wOBA, and 18.1 wRAA. His defense is below average, with a career Rtot at catcher of -6 and a career catcher Rdrs of -11.


This trade gives the Braves the big-name catcher they had their eyes on when this offseason began. It gives the Athletics a haul of prospects as yet another big name was shipped elsewhere. The Brewers seemed to make out like bandits. They received a great hitter in their new young catcher, someone whose batting average, slugging percentage, wOBA, and wRAA would have led the team in 2022. They also received two relievers — one major, one minor — and only had to give up one prospect to get the three.

[1] Note: Baseball Reference lists his debut as May 19. However, that game was suspended in the seventh inning and completed on September 6. Murphy played in the portion on September 6, but since that game officially happened May 19, Murphy is listed as debuting on that date.

Main Photo:

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Players mentioned:

Sean Murphy, William Contreras, Kyle Muller, Freddy Tarnok, Royber Salinas, Manny Piña, Esteury Ruiz, Josh Hader, Joel Payamps, Justin Yeager, Willson Contreras

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Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Colorado Rockies press corps. His first and biggest love is baseball.

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