MLB: Why the Mets Would Pass on Daniel Murphy for 2016

Daniel Murphy by Elsa
Elsa/Getty Images

Will the Mets pass on Daniel Murphy in the offseason after this sensational playoff performance? Insider reports and good sense suggest New York would do just that when Murphy becomes a free agent in the winter. In fact, these circumstances have created an interesting market for the Mets’ second baseman, who likely will parlay his special 2o15 postseason into a multi-year deal somewhere else.

Sources inside the Mets front office told the New York Daily News that the club will not offer its October star a deal to return in 2016, citing payroll issues and affordable replacements waiting in the wings in Flushing. The plan is for Dilson Herrera or Wilmer Flores to step into the 2B role next season. Letting Murphy walk would save the club the $10 million or so he could command annually in a multi-year deal or a one-year qualifying offer of $15.8 million. (These offers are never accepted anyway.)

Fortunately for the Mets’ newest hero — who set team records with a homer in four consecutive postseason games and five overall — Murphy has plenty of options when looking at the open market. Both the Angels and Dodgers have holes at second base and the sort of payroll flexibility that could make it happen.

While the Dodger front office might prefer a right-handed bat in the lineup and re-sign Howie Kendrick, the Angels are an intriguing fit. Murphy would provide a solid contact hitter to compliment the right-handed pop and high strikeout rates in the lineup. Johnny Giavotella, the incumbent in Anaheim, had a serviceable 2015 but swings from the right side and lacks the power of Murphy showed with 14 HR this past season, a career best.

The New York Yankees are another club that may be in the mix.

Al Bello/Getty Images
Al Bello/Getty Images

In the Bronx, club officials showed reluctance to promote Rob Refsnyder and leave him in the lineup for long stretches in 2015. (Refsnyder did start the Wild Card Game against Houston with Dallas Keuchel, a lefty, starting for the Astros.) Yet the late-season trade for Dustin Ackley paid dividends down the stretch run, which makes a lefty-righty platoon a viable option for the Yankees in 2016.

These teams (among others) are not fighting for the next MLB sensation after all. Murphy, who will turn 31 in April 2016, is a liability on the defensive end because of his limited range. Despite his league-best strikeout ratio and .288 career average, he is not a consistent on-base threat, either. (His .322 OBP was 12th among second baseman last season.)

Taking all these factors into account, you can see why the Mets would pass on the current king of New York, his monster postseason notwithstanding. We have seen how putting too much weight on playoff performances influenced the Pablo Sandoval contract with the Red Sox; one Boston executives would surely like back.

The Mets’ plan has put the team in position to win the World Series. Better to let Murphy go and plan for the next year with increased financial flexibility. They may end up with better defense and comparable offense in the bargain. Besides, if the Mets win the World Series, they can always have a Daniel Murphy day at Citi Field sometime down the line.

Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference. Check out more 2015 MLB postseason coverage from Sports Cheat Sheet.

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