While Daniel Murphy has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Mets this postseason, two team sources tell Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News that the club still isn’t planning to bring the second baseman back in 2016. “He’s been great, really great, but it changes nothing,” one of the sources said.
It has been assumed for months that the Mets would install Dilson Herrera or Wilmer Flores at second base next season, with Murphy signing elsewhere as a free agent due to his ever-growing price tag. “If they are keeping their payroll in the same neighborhood, they can’t afford to keep him,” one rival GM said. “He’s making $8 million now, will probably get a bump on that and he’s going to want some years….They already have all that money invested in Juan Lagares ($22.5 million) and Michael Cuddyer ($10 million) who are both back-ups now. You can’t keep your payroll under control like that.”
Such news won’t be welcome to Mets fans, who have been annoyed by the team’s lack of spending for years as the club has rebuilt around young talent (or, according to some critics, been unable to spend due to the Wilpon family’s financial losses in the Bernie Madoff scandal). There has even been speculation that the Mets may not issue a qualifying offer to Murphy, as the team is reportedly willing to let Murphy leave without getting a draft pick in return rather than risk him accepting the one-year, $15.8MM contract. I polled MLBTR readers on the subject last week and only 27.94% of voters felt the Mets shouldn’t make Murphy a qualifying offer.
Murphy hit .281/.322/.449 with 14 homers in 538 PA in 2015 and has a .291/.331/.421 slash line over the last five seasons. It was already unlikely that he would accept a QO given the lack of top-flight infielders on the free agent market, and it’s probably totally out of the question now given his playoff heroics. Murphy was hitting .320/.320/.840 with four homers in 25 PA during this postseason heading into tonight’s Game 2 of the NLCS, and in his first at-bat tonight, he added to his hot streak with a two-run homer off of Jake Arrieta. In a sign of just how feared Murphy has become this October, he was intentionally walked in his second at-bat to get to Yoenis Cespedes.
While it’s a small sample size, Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes that Murphy’s playoff run is impressing observers. One scout says that Murphy “has been on everything, pulled for power more than I can ever remember and made me start to think if you put him in the right stadium would some of all those doubles he hits every year turn into 20-plus homers annually?”
Sherman hears from various executives and agents that Murphy may now be looking at a deal in the neighborhood of the four-year, $52MM contract Chase Headley signed with the Yankees last season, and perhaps more since Murphy has more positional versatility than Headley and is one of the league’s best contact hitters. (Speaking of Headley, Sherman adds that the Padres offered Luke Gregerson to the Mets during the 2013-14 offseason for Murphy, who they saw as a possible Headley replacement.) Those executives also made guesses as to where Murphy could sign this winter, with the Astros, Angels and Dodgers coming up as the most-cited options.