Murphy signed a one-year, $900,000 contract with the Diamondbacks on Thursday, avoiding arbitration, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. Murphy played in 87 games for the Diamondbacks in 2018, slashing .202/.244/.375 with nine homers and 24 RBI in those appearances. With Carson Kelly slated to take over as the team's primary backstop, Murphy will be left to compete with Alex Avila for backup duties.
Murphy went 1-for-5 with a double and a walk in a 3-2 loss to the Padres in 15 innings Friday. With the Diamondbacks now eliminated from playoff contention, manager Torey Lovullo has made a concerted effort to give Murphy more work. Murphy, who appeared to be the Diamondbacks' No. 1 catcher earlier in the season before falling behind veterans Jeff Mathis and Alex Avila on the depth chart, picked up his third start in four games Friday and was behind the plate for the entirety of the marathon loss. With nine home runs across 219 plate appearances this season, Murphy offers some power upside at the catcher spot, but a 32 percent strikeout rate has kept his batting average barely above the Mendoza Line (.206).
Murphy went 1-for-2 at the dish Tuesday in the Diamondbacks' 5-4 win over the Angels. Murphy, who replaced starting catcher Jeff Mathis in the top of the seventh inning, had gone hitless over his previous 34 plate appearances before laying a bunt down the first-base line in the bottom of the ninth and legging out a base hit. After Murphy reached base, A.J. Pollock followed up with another bunt, which resulted in a throwing error by pitcher Cam Bedrosian that allowed the Diamondbacks to plate the game-winning run. Though he came up clutch Tuesday, Murphy's ugly second half makes him Arizona's clear No. 3 option behind the dish after Mathis and Alex Avila.
Murphy went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in Sunday's 5-4 win over the Padres. Murphy hasn't recorded a hit since July 6, going 0-for-21 while appearing in nine of the Diamondbacks' last 18 games. With Jeff Mathis having established himself as the personal catcher for both Zack Greinke and Patrick Corbin, Murphy has been forced to battle Alex Avila (and occasionally Mathis) for starting duties in the Diamondbacks' other contests. Murphy's extended slump coupled with Mathis' and Avila's defensive acumen has seemingly resulted in the 27-year-old plummeting to third on the depth chart.
Murphy is out of the lineup Sunday against the Braves. The Diamondbacks have kept three catchers on the active roster for much of the season and haven't committed to any one backstop as the true No. 1 option, but Murphy seemed to be approaching that status after posting a .797 OPS over his first 47 appearances. Since that time, Murphy has managed a lowly .211/.262/.263 slash line in 14 games. He'll be on the bench for the third straight contest heading into the break and may have fallen behind Alex Avila and Jeff Mathis on the depth chart.