John Ryan Murphy

JOHN RYAN MURPHY, CATCHER
Born: May 13, 1991
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 205
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 2nd Round, 76th Overall, 2009 (Yankees)
How Acquired: Minor League Free Agent
High School: The Pendleton School (Bradenton, FL)
Agent: ISE Baseball

WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE

The Yankees drafted Murphy as a bat-first catcher.  In the low minors his defense was problematic enough that the Yankees played him at third a little.  He eventually improved and now is considered a strong receiver and pitch framer.  He’s also been solid with the running game, throwing out 28% in the majors and 31% in the minors.  His hitting, though, went in the opposite direction.  It was generally solid as he moved up through the minors, with good plate discipline.  He had a good season as a backup catcher in the majors in 2015, but consistently struggled after that at both the AAA and major league levels.  He’s more recently shown some power, but poor walk and K rates and a low average.  The Pirates signed Murphy to a minor league deal for 2020, with an invitation to major league spring training.

2009
R:  333/405/485, 33 AB, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 BB, 8 K

Murphy debuted briefly after signing late.  Baseball America rated him the Yankees’ eighth best prospect after the season.

2010
A:  255/327/376, 330 AB, 15 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 36 BB/9, 64 K, 4-9 SB

The Yankees moved Murphy up to full season ball and he held his own, with solid plate discipline.  He caught 53 games, throwing out 23% of base stealers.  He had problems with errors and passed balls, and the Yankees were considering whether to move him to third or the outfield.  BA rated him 14th in the Yankees’ system.

2011
A:  297/343/457, 256 AB, 23 2B, 6 HR, 19 BB, 38 K, 2-2 SB
A+:  259/270/365, 85 AB, 6 2B, 1 HR, 2 BB, 9 K

The Yankees initially sent Murphy back to low A, where he shared time at catcher with Gary Sanchez.  His hitting improved and he earned a promotion to high A in June.  He went out for the season in July, though, after fouling a ball off his foot and breaking a bone.  He played a little at third at both levels.  Behind the plate, he threw out 24% of base stealers on the season.  BA moved him up to ninth in the system.

2012
A+:  257/322/374, 265 AB, 14 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 26 BB, 41 K, 4-7 SB
AA:  231/306/408, 147 AB, 12 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 16 BB, 32 K

Murphy made a lot of progress behind the plate and largely stayed there during the season, which he split between high A and AA.  He got better at stopping the running game, throwing out 32%.  His hitting was just decent.  BA rated him 15th in the system after the season.

2013
AA:  268/352/421, 183 AB, 10 2B, 6 HR, 24 BB, 32 K, 1-1 SB
AAA:  270/342/430, 230 AB, 19 2B, 6 HR, 23 BB, 41 K, 0-1 SB
MLB:  154/185/192, 26 AB, 1 2B, 1 BB, 9 K

Murphy had a solid season, split between AA and AAA, and the Yankees called him up for September.  He continued to play well defensively, throwing out 37% of base stealers.  At the plate, he showed moderate power and solid strike zone judgment.  BA rated him fourth in the system.

2014
AAA:  246/292/347, 179 AB, 9 2B, 6 HR, 13 BB, 42 K
MLB:  284/318/370, 81 AB, 4 2B, 1 HR, 4 BB, 22 K

The Yankees sent Murphy back to AAA, but he got called up in mid-April when Francico Cervelli got hurt.  The Yankees also had Brian McCann, so Murphy didn’t play much until he got sent back to AAA in late June.  He came back to the majors in September but didn’t play much then, either.  His hitting and plate discipline fell off in AAA.  He did better in the majors, albeit in limited chances.  BA rated him the Yanks’ 18th best prospect after the season.

2015
MLB:  277/327/406, 155 AB, 9 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 12 BB, 43 K

Murphy spent the season with New York, but didn’t play much behind McCann.  He hit fairly well, although with weak walk and K rates.  After the season, the Yankees traded him to the Twins.

2016
AAA:  236/286/323, 263 AB, 14 2B, 3 HR, 21 BB, 51 K
MLB:  146/193/220, 82 AB, 3 2B, 1 HR, 5 BB, 19 K

The Twins started Murphy off in the majors, but sent him to AAA in early May.  He didn’t return to the majors until September.  He struggled to hit at both levels, with plate discipline that remained weak.

2017
AAA (Minn):  222/298/330, 194 AB, 9 2B, 4 HR, 22 BB, 36 K
AAA (Ari):  284/351/373, 67 AB, 2 HR, 7 BB, 7 K
MLB (Ari):  143/143/286, 7 AB, 1 2B, 1 K

The Twins sent Murphy back to AAA and he struggled there until Minnesota traded him to Arizona in late July.  He hit better in AAA for the Diamondbacks, but didn’t get called up until near the end of the season, when he got into two games.

2018
MLB:  202/244/375, 208 AB, 9 2B, 9 HR, 11 BB, 71 K

Murphy spent the season with Arizona, where he shared catching duties with Jeff Mathis and Alex Avila.  Apart from modest power, he struggled badly at the plate, with poor walk and K rates.

2019
AAA (Ari):  250/316/524, 124 AB, 7 2B, 9 HR, 12 BB, 34 K
AAA (Atl):
  170/220/234, 47 AB, 1 HR, 2 BB, 13 K
MLB (Ari):  177/250/419, 62 AB, 3 2B, 4 HR, 6 BB, 28 K
MLB (Atl):  000/000/000, 1 AB

Murphy spent April and most of May with Arizona and continued to struggle at the plate apart from decent power.  He had a very rough time making contact.  The D’backs outrighted him to AAA in early June, then sent him to Atlanta at the end of July for cash.  He played in AAA for Atlanta, then came up to the majors in mid-September, although he got only one at-bat.  Atlanta non-tendered him after the season.

Murphy may get a chance to compete for a backup catcher role with the Pirates, but more likely he’ll open the season in AAA.  The team’s acquisition of Murphy and Luke Maile is hardly an endorsement of its efforts to draft catchers in recent years.

CONTRACT INFORMATION
2014: $502,700
2015: $518,700
2016: $528,700
2018: $558,000
2019: $900,000
2020: Minor league salary
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $1,250,000
MiLB Debut: 2009
MLB Debut: 9/2/2013
MiLB FA Eligible: 2020
MLB FA Eligible: 2022
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 9/1/2013 (since removed)
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2014, 2016, 2017)
MLB Service Time: 3.122
TRANSACTIONS
June 10, 2009: Drafted by the New York Yankees in the 2nd round, 76th overall pick; signed on August 17.
September 1, 2013: Contract purchased by the New York Yankees.
November 11, 2015: Traded by the New York Yankees to the Minnesota Twins for Aaron Hicks.
July 27, 2017: Traded by the Minnesota Twins to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Gabriel Moya.
May 25, 2019: Designated for assignment by the Arizona Diamondbacks; outrighted to AAA on June 1.
July 31, 2019: Traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Atlanta Braves for cash.
September 17, 2019: Called up by the Atlanta Braves.
December 2, 2019: Became a free agent.
January 10, 2019: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a minor league free agent.