For some reason, there has been this vibe around the New York Mets that second baseman Daniel Murphy is all but a lock to be traded in the off season because “he’ll cost too much”. According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Mets only have $54 million committed to next year’s roster, not including raises to arbitration eligible players such as Lucas Duda, Bobby Parnell, Dillon Gee, and of course, Daniel Murphy.
If the Mets do decide to go in the direction of trading Murphy, and unless they get a starting second baseman back in return, they will have to go shopping. According to Spotrac.com, here are the options to replace Murphy:
There’s literally no one on that list that is even worth picking up, let a lone relying upon for 135+ games as your starting second baseman.
Since no one there seems to be attractive, how about if Murphy played out 2015 in his final year of arbitration?
If he has an average season for him, say .287 BA, 10 HR, 70 RBI, 80 runs scored, and 15 steals, I would imagine that in his final year of arbitration he would get something around $8.5 – $9.5 million.
We now look at the 2016 free agent second basemen.
My number one choice out of that group would be Ben Zobrist, followed by Murphy, then Howie Kendrick. Zobrist’s ability to play almost every position on the field puts him above everyone else on the list.
But when you look at Kendrick vs Murphy, they are very comparable. Murphy has a better bat, Kendrick a better glove. In this case, the Mets struggle to score runs, so Murphy would be my guy.
Players like Rickie Weeks and Dan Uggla, I would label as DO NOT SIGN AT ANY COST.
To find a comparable contract extension for Murphy is pretty tough. This spring, the San Diego Padres and Jed Gyorko agreed to a 6 year/$35.5 million extension with a 7th year option that can make the deal worth up to $48.5 million.
Another deal that was recently signed was by Jason Kipnis of the Cleveland Indians. He signed a 6 year/$52.5M deal with a 7th year option to bring the total to 7 years/$69 million. Gyrko (1 year) and Kipnis (2 years) have much less service time than Murphy. Murphy already has four years of service time and there really isn’t a comparable player who was/is in his contract situation.
Are there better second basemen out there than Daniel Murphy? Of course.
But are they available? No.
That’s the simple answer. We all know about the Nick Franklin’s of the world that would cost a top five prospect, but he’s also a prospect. Murphy is 29-years old now and is set to be a free agent in his age 31 season.
Here is my thought process: The Mets have only one legit infield prospect in Dilson Herrera. He’s currently in St. Lucie playing A-Ball, so it’s realistic that he won’t be MLB ready for another 2-3 years.
Wilmer Flores is currently in AAA Las Vegas attempting to learn how to play shortstop. So there’s another possible option that you can cross off.
Daniel Murphy will never win a gold glove at second base, but unless you have lived under a rock for the past three seasons, he’s gone from arguably the worst defensive second baseman in the majors, to a slightly below to average defender.
Is he going to give you 20 homers? Nope. But you can pencil him in for .290 BA, 35-40 doubles, he’s figured out how to steal 25 straight bases, and drive in 70+ runs per season.
So would a 4 year/$36 million extension be crazy for Murphy? I don’t particularly think so, and it also wouldn’t make him immovable in a trade. But would Murphy accept it?
We may never know what kind, or if Murphy gets an extension offer, because he may in fact get traded. But if he is traded, the solution better not be throwing in Eric Young Jr in at second base. He has barely played there over the past few years.
So now the questions is: What kind of extension would you give Murphy if you give him one at all?