It’s hard to believe that Daniel Murphy, the position-less utility man that broke through with the Mets in 2008 has become the toast of his position, especially in the National League. After a rough start in the outfield, Murphy was moved around the infield and finally settled in at second. Despite two horrible leg injuries sustained while playing second, he’s found a home and now leads the league in most offensive categories, among second basemen.
Murphy ranks first in runs, hits, doubles and batting average among all NL second basemen and many of those numbers stand up when you look at the entirety of major league baseball. In fact if you look at the statistics, his name appears next to guys named Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Jose Altuve and Chase Utley in many categories. If you were playing “which name doesn’t belong” Murphy would be the obvious odd man out.
Still his numbers are undeniable and as he nears free agency, Sandy Alderson will have a big decision to make. Keep Murphy and sign him to a long term deal or trade him and make room for the flurry of young talent in the system.
Thinking about a contract for Murphy will be difficult. Unlike many of his counterparts at second, he has almost no power and is an average defender. He can hang with the Kinsler’s and Utley’s when it comes to many stats but home runs and defense are not among them.
Kinsler, Utley and Dustin Pedroia all make about the same amount (the three contracts will average out to $14.5 million this year) so what is a fair number for Murphy? My guess is that Murphy will want similar years to the big guys at about $4-$6 million less. Murphy’s contract will look like $48 million for 5 years (I’ll allow myself a 10% margin on this one).
So can the Mets do better at second base? The minor league system is littered with guys that could turn into excellent infielders, but it doesn’t seem like any promotions are imminent. Dilson Herrera is tearing up AA while Matt Reynolds has progressed quickly to AAA. Both could be solid major league options if Murphy is traded.
Now the question turns. If you trade Murphy it has to be a way of getting better at another position. There’s a very small chance that Herrera or Reynolds will lead the NL in hits or doubles in 2015 at second base, so trading Murphy has to be accounted for somewhere else on the roster. Trading him for a marginal upgrade just doesn’t work.
The only way a trade makes sense is as a part of a blockbuster including some of the other prospects in the system. If the Colorado Rockies are a Daniel Murphy away from sending the Mets one of their sluggers then Murphy has to go. My worry is that he gets moved in a smaller sized move and that his incredible stats get brushed under the rug because of his lack of defense and power.
Let me state this officially and on the record. I’m on #TeamMurph but beyond that, I’m on team #SignMurph. I don’t want him here just to be here. He’s a crucial part of the current Mets team and has gone from clumsy outfielder to crucial building block for a team devoid of hitters. Forget #TeamMurph. It’s time for Sandy Alderson to #SignMurph.