Willson Contreras has been a huge hit for the Cardinals thus far, but trading for Sean Murphy was their "Plan A". How different would this team have looked?
The number one story for the St. Louis Cardinals this offseason was who they would choose to replace Yadier Molina behind the dish. There were so many names floated around, but by the end of the Winter Meetings, they had agreed on a five-year contract with former Cubs catcher Willson Contreras.
Before the deal was made though, the Cardinals' had their eyes on another catcher: Sean Murphy.
Murphy made a ton of sense for the Cardinals and it is hard to blame them for making him their number-one target. Murphy is known for his prolific skills behind the plate and is also a great hitter like Contreras. For his career, Murphy has a .770 OPS. far higher than most catchers in baseball. Paired with an elite defense, that is a very valuable player. He has backed that up with an incredible play to begin the 2023 season.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Athletics' asking price was "high-like the moon", according to an executive he spoke with. The Athletics wanted a package of Lars Nootbaar, Brendan Donovan, and prospect Gordon Graceffo due to the three years of club control Murphy still had. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) added to this report, saying the Cardinals countered by asking Oakland to pick two of the following players to be dealt for Murphy: Nolan Gorman, Dylan Carlson, Juan Yepez, and Alec Burleson.
It's honestly shocking to see the kinds of names the Cardinals and Athletics were talking about in this deal, who St. Louis was willing to part with, and believing that Oakland actually the offer that they did for Murphy.
It's safe to say the Cardinals' offseason would have turned out a lot differently had they made a trade for Murphy. Many of those names discussed are extremely impactful players for this Cardinals' club and would have been a shame for them to lose. At the same time, Goold and others have pointed out that the Cardinals' would have made other significant moves in free agency had this deal gone down.
Let's look at three different scenarios of how a Murphy deal could have gone down, and how it would have drastically changed this Cardinals' team for this year.