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John Ryan Murphy Traded For Intriguing Lefty Reliever

The Twins announced that catcher John Ryan Murphy has been traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for 22-year-old Double-A lefty reliever Gabriel Moya.
Image courtesy of Kim Klement, USA Today
Acquired following the 2015 season from the New York Yankees in exchange for Aaron Hicks, John Ryan Murphy started the 2016 season with the Twins. When he didn't hit in the first month, he was sent down to Rochester where he has spent most of his time since.

He has been very good defensively (elite-level pitch framer), but the 25-year-old backstop just was not able to reach the offensive potential that was assume when he spent parts of three years catching for the Yankees.

As Nick pointed out shortly after the news came out, this would explain the addition of Anthony Recker in the Twins/Braves trade earlier this week.

While this trade may not be a page turner, a Mark Feinsand tweet from a bit ago may create further discussion.

In Moya, the Twins get a young pitcher who has worked solely as a reliever in his career. This year at AA Jackson, he is 4-1 with a 0.82 ERA in 34 outings. In 43.2 innings, he has issued just 12 walks and struck out 68 batters.

Jeff Wiser is the preeminent Arizona Diamondbacks prospect expert. Find his work at Inside the Zona. Here are his thoughts on Gabriel Moya:

Moya is a pitchablity over stuff kid at present. The fastball isn't overwhelming, but he can throw it for strikes and gets ahead of hitters. The changeup is special and is easily his best offering. Hitters don't see good changeups very frequently in the lower levels of the minors, explaining some of his success. He's held his own and exceeded expectations in AA, however. Facing AAA hitters could provide a bigger challenge, guys that have professional approaches and have seen some quality changeups in the past. He's been pretty dominant to date, but given his size and raw stuff, it's prudent to remain slightly skeptical until he faces better hitters. He's proven he can handle AA, and if it all breaks right, he could end up a solid middle reliever.

From Darren Wolfson:

According to Baseball America, Moya had the Best Changeup in the Diamondbacks minor leagues.

Here is a scouting report from 2080 Baseball from before this season:

Quick Hit: Not an overly physical kid, Moya does have some strength to his medium-sized frame and manages to get very good swing and miss despite just average velocity. The arm works very well, and he has excellent body control throughout the delivery that helps him get out front on a consistent basis. The changeup is his best pitch, with a chance to be plus with hard bottom that plays up due to the small crossfire and easy arm action. The fastball is pretty straight and in the low 90s, but it is sneaky quick and gets on hitters.
He handled both righties and lefties and showed very well in his first full season above rookie ball. Historically, he has done a great job keeping the ball on the ground, but saw the fly ball rate spike a bit once he moved to High A. But he only gave up two bombs in 44 2/3 innings in the homer-happy Cal League and the low hit totals (5.4 H/9 in 2016 across Class A and High A ball) remained consistent. Expect him to head to Double-A in 2017 and if he repeats his success there, could be ticketed for Phoenix later in the summer of 2018 with eyes on him being a solid sixth-to-seventh inning contributor.

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Cap'n Piranha
Jul 27 2017 11:00 AM
While it sort of explains the Recker acquisition, the FO still messed it up, in my opinion. Essentially, we lost Haley in order to keep Recker over Rohlfing. I think I'd rather have Haley and Rohlfing than Recker; so unless the Braves were insistent that we take Recker in order to get Garcia, I don't understand the move.
    • mikelink45 likes this

Just by looking at the stats for Moya, this looks like an absolute steal for JRM.

    • Thrylos, diehardtwinsfan, Danchat and 5 others like this

Interesting wonder if they've decided to sell?

Good trade. JRM is nothing but AAA filler, getting any live arm is a good trade, especially one that has shown some nice success.

Arizona really loves taking our poor catchers off our hands!
    • Mike Sixel, Danchat, bluechipper and 6 others like this

This trade looks good for what JRM has been for the Twins. Really this trade is Aaron HIcks for a reliever and when you look at it that way it doesn't feel as good as it could.


Still happy the FO is hunting for pitching.

    • 70charger, h2oface, SF Twins Fan and 2 others like this
SF Twins Fan
Jul 27 2017 11:09 AM

Based on his numbers it looks like he's had three straight year of success.  Consistently has a WHIP of 1.00 or below and striking out more than a batter per inning.  And the fact he's already at AA is exciting. I'd assume he'd start next season at AAA and then could move up from there, so he should be able to help the Twins next season.


Does anyone know if he has to be on the 40 man?

    • 70charger, bluechipper, Dman and 1 other like this

I always liked JRM more than most but this seems like a fine deal. The Twins are relatively set at C and it seems unlikely JRM would play a role there in the next few seasons.


That said, my biggest JRM feeling will always be confusion. He isn't some prospect who flamed out - he hit, damn it. At the MLB level. I a not-insignificant sample. And then he came to the Twins and forgot how. Again, in a not-insignificant sample. This continues to not make sense to me. I didn't think he'd be an all-star but he seemed like a low ceiling, low floor guy - until that floor dropped out under him.


Glad he's in the NL. Makes it easier to cheer for him to turn around his career.

    • diehardtwinsfan, gil4, Oldgoat_MN and 3 others like this
Moya was Rule 5 eligible last winter, and not selected. Which also means he will be Rule 5 eligible this winter. (And of course he is not on the 40-man right now.)
    • D.C Twins likes this

Does leave no doubt that things are opening up for Garver.

    • bluechipper and Vanimal46 like this
Jul 27 2017 11:23 AM

He's a lefty with four good pitches, I'd guess the only reason he hasn't been given another shot at starting since Rookie League is because of his size. I wonder if the Twins will consider this. Not that I don't love his numbers as a reliever. I like this guy already.


Also if memory serves, the trade of Chris Herrmann for Daniel Palka originally had us a bit perplexed because we didn't the Murphy/Hicks deal hadn't been publicly disclosed. The time the trade for Recker was perplexing because this one hadn't been leaked. 

    • 70charger likes this
Jul 27 2017 11:24 AM

Like the possible upside

    • 70charger and bluechipper like this

so as not to have to type it all again, my thoughts:




Win-win. Zona gets a back up catcher, Twins get a classic Twins wimpy pitch-to-contact RP that can fool mediocre hitters, but will get slaughtered by top teams. 

    • lukeduke1980 likes this


Win-win. Zona gets a back up catcher, Twins get a classic Twins wimpy pitch-to-contact RP that can fool mediocre hitters, but will get slaughtered by top teams. 

Is this sarcasm?

    • Thrylos, ThejacKmp, Danchat and 2 others like this

I doubt if Moya would be taken as a Rule 5 yet, so the Twins may be lucky there. Still, they have to think about adding him to the 40-man...and he'll need time at AAA.


    • D.C Twins likes this

He's striking out 41% of all batters faced as a 22 year old in AA. How is this pitch to contact?


He is currently a good depth reliever for the Twins with the upside for more. It will be interesting to see how his stuff translates to the MLB.

    • luckylager, gil4, 70charger and 6 others like this
Ah, the future all star catcher we stole for Aaron Hicks is traded ;-)
    • h2oface and bighat like this

Interesting. At least we got something for Hicks, I guess. Didn't we trade a backup catcher to AZ a couple years ago? I think they like our backup catchers.


I'm more interested in "The Twins are fielding calls for Ervin Santana, Garcia (LOL?) and Brian Dozier"....are they about to blow this thing up after the wretched Dodgers series? As much as I hate to wave the white flag, maybe it's a good idea? I was solidly in the "BUY" camp last week but after the past week I'm thinking selling might be okay too. Oh goodness.

    • Twins33, mikelink45 and Dman like this

Good luck to JRM. It's baffling how he went from a decent hitting C for the Yankees to not being able to hit at all, even in AAA. Next year he was out of options anyway, so I like the move to clear space for Garver. 

    • Mike Sixel, gunnarthor, diehardtwinsfan and 5 others like this


Good luck to JRM. It's baffling how he went from a decent hitting C for the Yankees to not being able to hit at all, even in AAA. Next year he was out of options anyway, so I like the move to clear space for Garver. 


If they let Garver catch, and if they ever promote him. 

    • h2oface and bighat like this
Moya is leading all AA pitchers in K%, minimum 30 IP. (Drop the minimum to 20, and only Nik Turley bests him :) )

Although I am not sure how well this correlates to future success, for relievers at least.
    • nicksaviking, KidBro and bighat like this

A minor move in a season of minor moves.  Fills a minor league roster, but nothing to be excited about.  Losing Murphy is not a big issue either, of course a 33 year old never going to make the majors guy is not the most exciting fill in for him and we dropped Rohlfing - Again.  The big question is still when Garver comes up.

    • h2oface, bighat and D.C Twins like this
Still time for the Twins to activate Perkins and serve up another 3 run HR to Murphy when we play Arizona in August!
    • Mike Sixel, Willihammer, puckstopper1 and 3 others like this

I assume Moya also gets added to the 40 this off-season and potentially takes the place of a known name we've followed the last 2-3 years. My prediction? JT Chargois gets the DFA. 

    • Mike Sixel and HitInAPinch like this

I doubt if Moya would be taken as a Rule 5 yet, so the Twins may be lucky there. Still, they have to think about adding him to the 40-man...and he'll need time at AAA.

From AA, you'd think there would be a decent chance of his selection in Rule 5. But then again, there always seem to be a bunch of relievers with big K/9 numbers at AA who don't get picked, or get chosen and then returned. Moya is younger than most, but maybe with less overpowering stuff?

I would expect he would get protected. Maybe even get a look in MLB yet this season. We don't seem to like most of the relief prospects already in our upper minors.

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