The Chicago White Sox did not have the 2022 season they were expected to have. After winning the American League Central in 2021, the White Sox were the favorites to win it again in 2022. They ended up faltering for much of the season, though, finishing with just an 81-81 record that wasn’t good enough to make it into the playoffs.

Many of Chicago’s key players didn’t live up to expectations last season, and it resulted in a wildly disappointing season. The hope was that the Sox could make some big moves this offseason to get them back into postseason contention, but to this point, the biggest move involving Chicago was the one they didn’t make that saw Jose Abreu sign with the Houston Astros.

While the White Sox may not be too busy on the free agent market, they could find themselves with a bit more activity on the trade market, whether it be adding some key pieces or trading them away instead. Let’s take a look at the perfect trade Chicago should make this offseason in an effort to find their way back into the playoffs next season.

White Sox perfect offseason trade

Acquire Sean Murphy from the Oakland Athletics

The hope for the White Sox in 2022 was that Yasmani Grandal would be able to hold down the fort at catcher after he managed to hit 23 home runs in just 93 games in 2021. With a full season of that production, Grandal could have realistically hit around 35 home runs, which would be a blessing from someone at the catcher position.

Unfortunately, Grandal was horrible for Chicago last season, taking a massive step back when he played. He only played in 99 games, but when he played, it wasn’t pretty (.202 BA, 5 HR, 27 RBI, .570 OPS). Grandal was a shell of his former self, and the White Sox quickly joined the list of teams throughout the league looking for help at the catcher position.

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That could lead Chicago to make a push for Oakland Athletics catcher Sean Murphy. Murphy put together the most complete season of his career in 2022 (.250 BA, 18 HR, 66 RBI, .759 OPS) and could end up being moved by the A’s as they continue to edge towards a full-scale rebuild. It’s no sure bet that Murphy will be traded, but Oakland has made him available, and the White Sox should make a run for him.

Based on how bad he was last season, Chicago can’t really afford to employ Grandal as their everyday starting catcher. Seby Zavala lurks as another option at catcher, and he’s been a spark plug at times, but he doesn’t really seem like a guy worth starting everyday at this point either. With those two guys leading the way, it’s not hard to see why catcher is such a big need for the Sox.

Murphy could immediately come in and make the position his own. We’ve already seen he’s a strong hitter at the plate, but he’s also a very capable defender as well. Murphy won the American League Gold Glove for his defensive efforts behind the plate in 2021, and he remained a strong defensive presence behind the plate throughout the 2022 campaign as well.

Murphy is also appealing because he’s cheap and in the prime of his career. He’s only 28 years old, and will remain under team control through the 2025 season. That means the White Sox could realistically develop another catcher prospect behind Murphy if they didn’t want to sign him to a long-term deal, although that’s a lot easier said than done nowadays.

Given the need for catchers across the MLB, it’s not going to be easy for anyone to land Murphy, including the White Sox. We saw Willson Contreras, one of the top catchers in the game, get a massive deal from the St. Louis Cardinals in free agency, and while that takes a competitor out of the running for Murphy, it makes the remaining suitors all the more interested in his services.

Murphy isn’t the greatest hitter to ever grace the sport, but he’s a consistent option at catcher, which is more than most teams can say they have. Finding a catcher who can both hit and play strong defense is not easy to do, and the Athletics have inadvertently managed to stumble upon that with Murphy here.

Since Oakland isn’t contending, and the need for catchers is extremely high right now, they are in a great opportunity to cash in on Murphy this offseason. The White Sox definitely need to add some more hitting to their lineup, and while Murphy isn’t going to solve all of their problems, he would fill a big need and allow the team to focus on filling their other remaining holes throughout the next few months of the offseason.