One year ago today, Colorado Rockies catcher Tom Murphy was claimed by the San Francisco Giants off of waivers.
One year ago today, the Colorado Rockies made their decision on who would be their catchers on Opening Day. The battle was between Tony Wolters, Chris Iannetta, and Tom Murphy. The Rockies decided at the end of spring training to go with the former two catchers rather than Murphy.
The Rockies placed Murphy on waivers and he was claimed off of waivers by the San Francisco Giants. Four days later, though, the Giants traded Murphy to the Seattle Mariners for a minor leaguer.
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Murphy, 28, became a part of a catching platoon with Omar Narvaez on the Mariners. While the Mariners were an atrocious team since they lost 94 games, that platoon was one of the bright spots on the team.
Murphy and Narvaez combined to a 5.0 bWAR at the catching position, with Murphy contributing 2.7 of that. In 75 games (298 plate appearances), Murphy hit 18 home runs, 40 RBI, and he had a slash line of .273/.324/.535 with an OPS+ of 129. Murphy also led the Mariners with 7 bDRS.
This offseason, the Mariners traded Narvaez to the Milwaukee Brewers so it’s obvious that they will be looking to lean on Murphy more in 2020 as their primary catcher.
For the Rockies, their catching situation is still a situation that is one of their weakest positions, particularly offensively as shown by our top five catchers list in Rockies franchise history that we did recently.
Tony Wolters is the third-best catcher in Rockies history and in four years, he has an OPS+ of 63. At least his defense has been a strength for the Rockies. Chris Iannetta, who was the best catcher in Rockies history, had an OPS+ of 75 and a bWAR of -0.5 before the Rockies cut ties with him in August.
The season that Murphy had (as well as Mike Tauchman, who’s one anniversary of being traded to the Yankees was just a few days ago) would have been a big help to the Rockies, who lost 20 more games in 2019 than they did in 2018 when they made the playoffs.
Once the 2020 season comes, we will see if Murphy is able to replicate his success with the Mariners to see if it was a big mistake by the Rockies to let him go but at least as of now, it looks to be the case.