Rockies first baseman Daniel Murphy is officially a free agent, as per the MLB Players Association’s list of 147 players who entered free agency today now that the World Series is complete. Murphy and the Rockies shared a $12MM mutual option for Murphy’s services in 2021, though it can probably be assumed that the Rox declined their side of the option, instead paying Murphy a $6MM buyout.
It was widely expected that Murphy wouldn’t be back for a third season in Colorado. After signing a two-year deal worth $24MM in guaranteed money in December 2018, Murphy underwhelmed, hitting .269/.316/.426 with 16 homers over 610 plate appearances in 2019-20. An early-season finger injury may have contributed to his problems in 2019, but Murphy simply hit poorly this season, finishing in the bottom five percentile of all batters in exit velocity, wOBA, and hard-hit ball rate.
Beyond Murphy’s own lack of production, his signing ranks as a particular miss for the Rockies considering that DJ LeMahieu (the player Murphy essentially replaced) immediately went on to deliver a pair of outstanding seasons with the Yankees. While Josh Fuentes played well in an increasingly larger role at first base in 2020, it seems likely that Colorado will look for a more proven bat to fill the position this winter.
It wasn’t long ago that Murphy was a feared bat, finishing second in NL MVP voting in 2016 and delivering another All-Star season in 2017 (both years as a member of the Nationals). Murphy will turn 36 on Opening Day 2021, however, and given his age and his decline over the last two seasons, he might be hard-pressed to find a Major League contract on the open market.