An unknown team has claimed Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy on revocable trade waivers, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The identity of the claiming team is not known, though Sherman notes that the veteran did not make it to the Yankees on the wire.
Murphy was reportedly placed on waivers on Friday. That means the situation is likely still pending. The unidentified team would have been awarded the claim on Sunday, setting off a period of 48.5 hours during which that club and the Nationals will see if they can work something out.
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It seems, then, that we’ll learn by tomorrow whether or not Murphy will be in the move. If so, he could go via trade or simply be allowed to leave for salary relief. After all, he’s owed nearly $4MM through the end of the season, when he’ll reach free agency.
For the Nats, there’s obvious appeal in shaving that much cash. Importantly, Murphy will not be eligible for a qualifying offer since he has received one previously. While the Nationals could still pull him back from waivers, that’d mean passing on a chance to recoup some of the money invested into what has been an immensely disappointing season. With the Braves winning tonight, the Washington franchise sits 7.5 games out of the division lead and one game under .500 with less than six weeks left to play.
Just what the Nationals intend to do isn’t yet clear, but Murphy would figure to be among the most obvious players to leave if the organization decides to pack it in and reload for next year. Star Bryce Harper would surely be an appealing asset to other teams, but there’s less incentive there since he can still be issued a qualifying offer at season’s end and the organization may yet have designs on re-signing him.
As for Murphy, the fact that a team put in a claim with that hefty remaining obligation suggests that organizations believe he’s back to being a high-quality hitter. He missed a long stretch of the season after microfracture surgery on his knee and struggled upon returning to action. But Murphy raked throughout the month of July and has been hitting at a solid clip since the calendar flipped to August.
Defensive and baserunning metrics, unsurprisingly, take a dim view of the 33-year-old’s present skill level. That clearly limits his utility, even in a late-season rental scenario. Still, Murphy would represent a potentially compelling addition to a postseason lineup with his penchant for grinding out plate appearances and career 1.020 OPS through 24 playoff games.
Those interested in guessing at a claiming team will note that National League clubs have the first crack, in reverse order of the standings. Arguably, though, Murphy makes the most sense on an American League roster at this stage of his career. While he can still line up at second or first base, a DH slot might be the preferred place for his bat to reside.