2015 Statistics: 67 games, .277/.327/.406, 3 home runs, 99 wRC+
2016 Contract Status: 40-man roster, under team control
Although starting catcher Brian McCann had one of the better offensive seasons on the team, his backup catcher also exceeded expectations and performed as well as could have been expected. John Ryan Murphy beat out Austin Romine for the backup job in spring training before going on to prove himself as one of the more reliable backup catchers in the league. Murphy was a capable hitter despite having to play limited time, which is always challenging on bench players, and his defense was also strong behind the plate. McCann is regarded as one of the best framers in baseball, but Murphy was able to steal his fair share of strikes for his pitchers as well.
Murphy's biggest moment of the season came in the game we all rightfully know as the Alex Rodriguez three-home run game in Minnesota. Rodriguez tied the game with his third homer of the game before Murphy stepped to the plate and launched a three-run homer into the seats of Target Field. The look of disbelief on his face as he rounded the bases, and his celebration with Rodriguez in the dugout, were two of the more endearing moments of the 2015 season. It was almost certainly the biggest moment of Murphy's young career so far.
With McCann under contract for three more seasons, it's hard to see Murphy getting a shot at being the starter except in the case of injury. It's certainly nice to have a backup who can play without being a total zero at the plate when the starter needs a day off, but Murphy's ceiling is likely higher than that of just a backup. Maybe the Yankees use him as trade bait at some point, or keep him around as a reliable bench player they don't have to worry about deploying in McCann's absence. Either way, Murphy's future looks pretty bright. Putting too much emphasis on the energy someone brings to the team is kind of lazy and silly, but it's so fun to watch how much Murphy gets into his teammates' success. He represents a fun change to the sort of stuffy Yankees we've been used to in the past, and that in and of itself is valuable.