The Rockies have considered the possibility of signing Daniel Murphy to play first base, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The Mets did, of course, extend Murphy a qualifying offer. The Rockies’ top pick — fourth overall — is protected, although they would have to give up their Comp Round A pick he rejects the qualifying offer and they sign him.
The timeline of the Rockies’ interest in Murphy is unclear, but if they’ve seriously considered signing him, it’s possible they could be planning to make a surprising impact this winter. Murphy doesn’t figure to be cheap — MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicts he’ll get four years and $56MM. The market at first is rather thin, though, and Murphy does figure to be less expensive than the top first base option, Chris Davis, who should get at least twice as much. Korean slugger Byung-ho Park is another possibility, although it’s not yet clear which team won the rights to negotiate with him.
The Rockies headed into 2015 with Justin Morneau topping their depth chart at first base, but they declined their mutual option on him after he hit .310/.363/.458 in 49 games but struggled to stay healthy. Ben Paulsen ended up playing at first for much of the year, but the Rockies’ interest in Murphy suggests they won’t be wedded to Paulsen as their starting first baseman.
Murphy, of course, figures to draw interest from any number of teams, many of whom want him to play second or third, where his bat will have a greater impact. (The average first baseman last year hit .259/.336/.444, not significantly worse than Murphy’s .281/.322/.449, although Murphy did hit in a tough home park.) It will be interesting to see whether the Rockies are willing to pay a premium for Murphy’s bat (and postseason heroics) when other teams might be able to get better value from him by having him play elsewhere on the diamond.