Thomas James Murphy Jr.
Height: 6'1" Weight: 21
Bats/Throws: Right / Right
Born: 04/03/1991 in West Monroe, New York
College: SUNY Buffalo
Acquired: In trade from the San Francisco Giants, for Jesús Ozoria (03/29/2019)
MLB Debut: 09/12/2015
Free Agent after: 2023 season
Murphy for All-Star! That was a cry heard by some in the upper deck of the Ballpark by Elliott Bay one afternoon, and though it was no doubt said in jest, it has some merit. When has a club's backup catcher ever been considered one of its best players? That might be the case with Murph, who came to the Mariners in a "wait, who?" trade very early in the season and really all that was expected of him was to be somewhat better than the .214-hitting David Freitas. Instead, Murphy has forced his way into being a platoon regular in the lineup, either catching or as the DH against left-handers and occasionally against rightites. The splits aren't that wide—.314/.327/.588 vs. LHP, .279/.304/.628 vs. RHP—and he has had a knack for getting big hits, so finding at-bats for him has been a worthy goal.
The M's opened the season with David Freitas as the backup catcher, and Freitas even got the start in the home opener against Boston. The next day, though, Jerry Dipoto went out and got Murphy to take Freitas' place. Murphy was a well-regarded Rockies prospect just a few years ago and had a fine year at Triple-A in 2016 (.327/.361/.647 in 303 at-bats), but in limited big-league action has hit just .219 for his brief career.
Will Murphy be a step up from Freitas? Remains to be seen, but Murphy is basically a low-to-no-risk pickup with some potential, and if he doesn't pan out, no biggie. Defensively, Murphy is regarded as unremarkable one way or the other, but again, not a lot of history to base that on so we'll just have to wait and see.
When he was told he's been traded to the Mariners, Murphy was reportedly watching reruns of "The Office," a favorite of his. He's seen the entire run several times, he said, and enjoys tuning in whenever he comes across it. No word yet on whether he vacations at Schrute Farms.