Daniel Murphy has been one of the few sources of certainty for the Mets in recent seasons and 2014 was no exception. Murph was selected to his first All-Star Game and was en route to a career season before a calf strain in late August sent him to the disabled list for two weeks and ultimately a poor finish to the year. Despite the slump, Murphy finished 2014 batting a solid .289/.332/.403 in 642 plate appearances, good enough for a 2.8 fWAR, third on the club behind Lucas Duda and Juan Lagares.
A mainstay in the two-spot in manager Terry Collins's lineup, the 29-year-old did a majority of his damage offensively in May and June, hitting .303/.359/.445 with six of his nine home runs in 57 games. Murphy was again a model of consistency across the board, hitting a respectable .274/.325/.370 versus left-handers in 2014 and never batting below .280 in any month before hitting just .191 in 68 September at-bats. Overall, Murphy has been one of the better offensive second basemen in the National League since he started manning the position full-time in 2012, hitting .287/.327/.407 with an average of 9 home runs, 67 RBI, 50 extra base hits and a 107 OPS+, certainly not star-worthy but more than adequate from the position. His 2014 numbers are in line with his previous years and compare favorably to his National League counterparts at the keystone position.
|Avg. NL 2B||.251||.308||.368||6.7||.676||.117|
Defensively, Murphy remains mediocre at best, something known and accepted by the Mets. Murph committed 15 errors at second in 2014, one less than in 2013 but across 194 fewer innings. DRS (-10) and UZR (-5.6) paint a rather bland picture of Murphy's work with the leather. Despite his faults and overall sub-par fielding, he is hardly an embarrassment in the field and his above-average offense more than compensates for his defensive shortcomings.
The Mets now face a dilemma, one that theoretically they should not have to deal with as a large-market team. With the Wilpons continuing to express they are not cash-strapped despite numerous examples that say otherwise, Murphy's 2014 $5.7 million salary will go up significantly in his final year of arbitration. A constant member of the trade rumor mill the last few years, Murphy's production as a second baseman may actually punch his ticket out of town thanks to an ever-increasing salary. Barring a contract extension, the Mets will have to finally pull the trigger on a trade or risk seeing one of their homegrown players walk as a free agent after 2015.
Furthermore, the emergence of Dilson Herrera and the availability of players like Wilmer Flores and Matt Reynolds could provide general manager Sandy Alderson with enough of a comfort level to deal New York's lone 2014 All-Star. Whatever the end result, Murphy's status will be one of the most talked-about and watched in an extremely important offseason for the Mets.
Desired 2015 role: Another consistent season leads to a second All-Star game selection.
Projected 2015 role: Starting second baseman and number two hitter—until the trade deadline when he is finally sent packing.