It seemed like only minutes after hearing that John Ryan Murphy had been optioned to Triple-A in favor of the returning Francisco Cervelli, word came out that teams were calling about the 23-year-old catcher's availability.
hear the #yankees are getting lots of calls asking about john ryan murphy @JRMurphy513 who was sent down today— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) June 17, 2014
Murphy hit .286/.308/.365 in 65 plate appearances for the Yankees, which might not seem that special, but plenty has been said about his work behind the plate. Yankees bullpen coach and catching instructor Gary Tuck has spoken very highly of the young backstop, and along with his ranking by MLB.com as the organization's No. 4 prospect, it's easy to see how a team might find him intriguing. For many teams without longterm catchers of their own, Murphy represents the possibility of a mainstay who could bring stability to the position for years, and with the Yankees optioning that down, there will be plenty of calls.
No deal is close to being done and no deal is likely to happen, at least not for the next few weeks, but as we prepare for the July trade deadline, it's at least important to keep the possibility in the back of your mind. A young catching prospect could get the attention of just about every team in the majors, but when considering who might be realistically involved, there are a few that at least jump out at you:
We spoke about the possibility of the Arizona Diamondbacks trading for John Ryan Murphy this spring. The D-Backs were long rumored to be interested in acquiring a solid backup catcher to back up Miguel Montero. Replacing the 30-year-old Tuffy Gosewisch with the 23-year-old Murphy could give them better insurance for the future in case they need to replace Montero at some point.
It's incredibly unlikely that any kind of deal would happen between division rivals, but it does make perfect sense if the Baltimore Orioles called about Murphy's availability. They just lost Matt Wieters to Tommy John surgery and neither Nick Hundley or Caleb Joseph are providing much in the way of offensive production. While Wieters will be back next season, it would be nice for them to have another solid option behind the plate, just in case.
The Chicago White Sox were once rumored to be eyeing Murphy for a possible trade, but nothing ended up happening and instead they are using Tyler Flowers and Adrian Nieto, who made it as high as High-A in 2013. Neither are hitting much, and with nothing coming through the pipeline, it could make sense for them to add a piece for the future.
The Miami Marlins find themselves in the very awkward territory of near-contention. Right now they are just two games over .500, which is well beyond what anyone ever expected from them, and they really don't have a catcher. Miami is currently going with a tandem of Jeff Mathis and top catching prospect J.T. Realmuto, but Jeff Mathis is Jeff Mathis and Realmuto was pulled up directly from Double-A. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is currently out with a concussion. If they can get Murphy, they could have a solid starting catcher with some actual upside without having to put too much on Realmuto too soon.
The Minnesota Twins could probably use a better catcher now that they have optioned Josmil Pinto to the minors to work on his defense and are now relying on Kurt Suzuki and Eric Fryer behind the plate. Suzuki isn't known for his glove work either, so if they want a catcher they can rely on, Murphy might be their guy.
The Texas Rangers have lost so many players that it doesn't even make sense for them to try and add pieces. Geovany Soto tore the meniscus in his knee and won't be back for at least another month. In the meantime, they're currently stuck at .500 with Robinson Chirinos and Chris Gimenez behind the plate. While Soto should return, the Rangers might see that they need all the help they can get right now. It would probably be the wrong call for them, but I wouldn't mind if it meant that the Yankees could take advantage of a panic move.
The Washington Nationals have a catcher in Wilson Ramos, unfortunately, he's proven to be a little too injury prone for a starting catcher (he's on the DL right now) without a solid backup option. Jose Lobaton and Sandy Leon have combined for a .596 OPS this season, and John Ryan Murphy can only be better than what they have provided.
Keep these teams in mind as we approach the trade deadline because I wouldn't be surprised if the rumor mill cranked out something involving any of these teams in the coming weeks.