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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch is reporting that the A's were asking for an absolute haul from the Cardinals in exchange for Sean Murphy

"The Athletics sought a return of outfielder Lars Nootbaar, Gold Glove-winner Brendan Donovan, and a power young pitcher like Gordon Graceffo in exchange for Murphy and three years of control, according to a source with knowledge of the talks."

That is a lot of pretty good talent that the A's were seeking. Instead of continuing talks with Oakland, the Red Birds decided to go a different route, signing Willson Contreras away from the rival Chicago Cubs on a five year deal. 

As for the players the A's were asking for, Nootbaar is an obvious target for the A's, who are looking to improve their outfield. He hit .228 in 2022 with a .340 OBP, 14 home runs, and a 126 OPS+ in 347 plate appearances. The right fielder bats from the left side and his Baseball Savant page is littered with red everywhere you look. He's still a bit under the radar to baseball fans at large, but fans in St. Louis love him. 

Nootbaar has two years until arbitration and won't be a free agent until after the 2027 season. 

Brendan Donovan finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting and earned himself a Gold Glove in his first big league season. He also had a 126 OPS+ and hit .281 with a .390 OBP, walking (60) nearly as many time as he struck out (70). He isn't arbitration eligible until after the 2024 season and won't hit free agency until after the 2028 season.  

The final piece is the Cardinals #1 pitching prospect, Gordon Graceffo. The right-hander is #4 in the Cardinals' system, and #78 in baseball according to FanGraphs. Graceffo hasn't made his big-league debut yet, but he pitched in Double-A this past season, totaling 93 2/3 innings and compiling a 3.94 ERA as a 22-year-old. He can hit 99, but sits 93-97 with the heater, and he has four average-or-better pitches, per FanGraphs

The Baseball Trade Values valuation of this deal heavily favors the A's getting more value, because Oakland is asking for a top 100 prospect and two major league starters with at least five years of control left each. 

While the Cardinals have bowed out of the Sean Murphy discussions, them signing one of the best backup plan options away from other teams could actually work in Oakland's favor in finding someone to pay their asking price.