As the Mets head to New York for game three in their National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Daniel Murphy’s tenure in New York is likely nearing its end, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.
Murphy, 30, is set to become a free agent for the first time after this season. A fixture of the Mets’ lineup for the past seven years, Murphy has brought a lot of consistency with his bat, despite his defensive skills not always being the best.
When he hits the market, Sherman’s report says that executives around the league expect “Murphy will get a three-year contract in the $30 million-to-$40 million range.” Based on Murphy’s career numbers, an average annual salary of $10-$13.3 million is not a stretch.
In 2015 alone, Murphy showed improvements in his ability. For starters, the former All-Star in 2014 set a career high in home runs with 14 — his previous high was 13 bombs in 2013. Also, Murphy continued to show his prowess as a professional hitter. A career.288 batter, Murphy has not posted a BA lower than.281 since 2011.
While Murphy does provide versatility as a defender, capable of playing first, second, and third base, Fangraphs rates him as a poor defender — especially at second base. That is where the Mets’ reasoning for letting Murphy walk begins.
As Sherman notes, the Mets have players such as Dilson Herrera and Wilmer Flores waiting in the wings, ready to take over second base. Not only are they younger alternatives to Murphy, they are also significantly cheaper ones. This season, Murphy made $8 million on a one-year contract he signed in the offseason, avoiding arbitration.
According to Fangraphs, Murphy’s production 2015 was worth $20.1 million, $12.1 million above what he actually made. Partnered with Sherman’s estimate, it all but guarantees that Murphy will get a significant raise in free agency.
The question now is whether or not the Mets will extend a qualifying offer to Murphy. A qualifying offer would equate to a one-year deal worth $15.8 million dollars. If the Mets extend that offer and Murphy declines, the team will get a draft pick. If Murphy accepts, they will have Murphy under contract for one more season under a reasonable salary. But with the Mets’ obvious preference to save money, extending such an offer represents a potentially costly move, at least by the Mets’ bank book.
Also, one important component to this is that draft pick. The Mets would receive that pick from the team that signs Murphy after he declines a qualifying offer. However, as Sherman writes, many teams will likely be hesitant to part with a draft pick to sign a player who is viewed as “good, but not great.”
Yet, having Murphy potentially accept that offer would not be the worst thing in the world. Along with young, unproven players like Herrera and Flores in the fold, the Mets infield consists of injury-prone players such as Lucas Duda and team captain David Wright. Considering his salary and track record, Murphy would actually represent a nice insurance policy for 2016.
Before the Mets deal with this situation with Murphy, they first have to continue their quest for their third World Series championship. They won the first game of the NLDS by a score of 3-1, thanks in part to Murphy’s blast off Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw. Last night, a controversial slide by Chase Utley opened the floodgates, leading to the Dodgers tying up the series with a 5-2 victory.
Now, the series returns to New York for Game 3, and Mets’ ace Matt Harvey will take the hill as the team tries to take a 2-1 series lead. But if disaster strikes and the Mets come up short, this could be Murphy’s last time at Citi Field as a member of the Amazins’.
[Images by Sean M. Haffey, Jim McIsaac / Getty Images]