The San Diego Padres have already traded for Juan Soto, Josh Bell, and Josh Hader. But they still could trade for a catcher.
The San Diego Padres already have a decent catching corps of Jorge Alfaro and Austin Nola but they are going all in at the trade deadline as they are rumored to be looking at some catchers after they have traded for outfielder Juan Soto, first baseman Josh Bell, and closer Josh Hader.
Alfaro enters Trade Deadline Day hitting .273/.307/.439 with a wRC+ of 111 with seven home runs, 33 RBI, and 13 doubles in 61 games. Defensively, he is at league average in pitch framing (0 Catch Framing Runs) and below league average defensively (-3 Defensive Runs Saved). Austin Nola is hitting .238/.309/.304 with a wRC+ of 78. He has also struggled defensively behind the plate (-4 DRS and -5 Catch Framing Runs) but he can also play second and third base (as he has this year).
Overall, the duo’s offense has amounted to a 93 wRC+, which is seven percent below league average but also ninth-best at catcher in the sport.
Since they are looking at catchers, here are three catchers they could be looking at on the trade market.
3 catchers that the Padres may be looking at
1) Cubs catcher Willson Contreras
Willson Contreras is the best overall player left on the market so from a Padres perspective, they’d further strengthen their trade deadline if they traded for him.
For the Cubs backstop, he was the NL’s starting catcher for the All-Star game last month. In 86 games played and he has hit .252/.365/.453, 14 home runs, 38 RBI, and 20 doubles with a wRC+ of 132. Defensively, he has been below league average (-3 DRS) but above average in pitch framing (1 CFR).
The Padres might not have the prospects left to trade for him but if they do, it would be a huge coup.
2) Tigers catcher Tucker Barnhart
The Tigers need to get some prospects for some of their veterans as they are nowhere near contention. Barnhart would be the cheapest of the three options as he is having a down year but he is also a free agent at the end of the season.
On the season for the Tigers, he has played in 65 games and he has hit .203/.259/.235 with an OPS+ of 44 so he will not improve their offense. He has been around league average with pitch framing and below average defensively (-4 DRS).
Barnhart would essentially be a depth piece, which is always helpful especially since there is no waiver trade period anymore. One injury to a catcher and the Padres could be screwed without somebody like Barnhart.
3) Oakland A’s Sean Murphy
While Willson Contreras would get a lot for a trade, Oakland A’s catcher Sean Murphy might actually get more. Unlike Contreras or Barnhart, Murphy is under contract for the next three seasons after this year so he could be their catcher for the foreseeable future while Soto, Tatis Jr., Machado, and others are in the fold. And, best of all, Murphy is one of the best catchers in baseball.
In 93 games this year, Murphy has hit .238/.314/.423 with a wRC+ of 112, 12 home runs, 41 RBI, and 24 doubles. Defensively, he has been both above league average defensively (1 DRS) and with pitch framing (6 CFR). For the 6 CFR, that is second-best among all catchers this season.
His 2.7 fWAR is the fifth-highest among catchers this season so if they have the prospects, this would be another huge get for the Padres.
Most importantly, before this season, his only MLB manager? Bob Melvin, who’s now the manager of the Padres. Melvin, a former MLB catcher himself, knows how good Murphy is and Murphy has already worked with at least one Padres pitcher: former A’s starter Sean Manaea.