Jeff Bridich has been widely criticized for some of his Colorado Rockies personnel moves over the last couple of seasons.
The Colorado Rockies general manager attempt to build a “super bullpen” ahead of the 2018 season that has, for the most part, been a flop. Last season’s decision to let DJ LeMahieu walk to the New York Yankees and sign Daniel Murphy in his place has been a constant thorn in the side of Rockies fans.
These are just a select few of the controversial moves the organization has made that have not panned out. However, there is a smaller move that has come back to haunt the Rockies as they configure the roster for the 2020 season. That is the release of catcher Tom Murphy.
This winter, the Rockies have been searching high and low to find a catcher to back up Tony Wolters. Currently, the only three options are the career .200 hitting, 36-year-old Drew Butera (a move the Rockies still haven’t officially announced but has been widely reported), the 25-year-old Dom Nunez, who has played in a total of 16 Major League games, and the just-signed Elias Diaz, who struggled last season offensively and defensively in Pittsburgh.
The Rockies would have had a much better option in Murphy except he was released at the end of Spring Training because he was out minor league options. Instead, they went with Chris Iannetta, who was considered to be a better defensive catcher and provided a veteran presence. This turned out to be the wrong decision. In 52 games, Iannetta hit .222/.311/.417 with six homers, 21 RBI, and 20 runs scored before being released on August 15.
As for Murphy, he flourished with the Seattle Mariners after being claimed off waivers. For multiple seasons, Murphy had bounced back and forth between Triple-A Albuquerque and Denver but could never gain traction due to the lack of everyday playing time. That all changed in Seattle as he hit .273/.324/.535 with 18 homers, 40 RBI, and 32 runs scored in 75 games played. He also threw out 39% of would-be baserunners while committing only four errors. Compare that to Iannetta, who committed three errors in 30 less games and only threw out 17% of baserunners.
Now, instead of a solid Wolters/Murphy combo heading into 2020, the Rockies are left frantically searching for depth with just over a month before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.
The LeMahieu departure turned out to be quite the blunder but the release of Murphy could rank right up there with it as it is indirectly still being felt almost a year later.